When I was living in the USA, I was paying 35 percent taxes on my income (this included medicare and social security). I paid about $100 per month on health care through my employer, and had copayments and deductibles.
For readers outside of the USA, I will explain this a little for you. Even if you pay monthly for private health insurance, you still pay a fee every time you see a doctor or specialist. This amount is usually $ 20 or $ 35 and is called a copayment. On top of this, the health insurance requires you to pay a certain amount before they start paying, called a deductible. You can purchase a health plan that do not have this limit, but it is unaffordable to the average person. Deductibles range from $ 500 to $ 5,000; the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly payment. Most people have higher deductibles so they can afford the monthly payments.
In France, I am paying 20.5 percent in taxes and $ 40 per month on healthcare, and I do not have copayments and deductibles. I broke my finger and gave birth last year, and did not have to pay a penny out of my pocket. One argument in the USA is that, yes, it is nice to have those benefits but it is not worth paying 50 percent in taxes. Not everyone pays 50 percent in taxes in France. However, knowing what I do now, I would rather pay 50 percent in taxes here than live in the USA.
If I made $ 65,000 per year in the USA, I would end up paying about $ 22,750 in taxes. Of course, I could find deductions to help reduce this amount. I would also have to add in the cost of health insurance. To make this simple, I went to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s website and calculated the cost of insurance for only me.
I narrowed the list to what matches the closest to what I get in France and found BlueOptions 10 with maternity benefits. For a 30 year-old non-smoker, it costs $ 511 per month, or $ 6,132 per year. If you are working at a company, it usually pays part of this monthly rate. Since I am self-employed, I would be responsible for the full amount. This plan does not cover dental or eye care. In France, my private insurance covers the cost of eye exams, surgeries and other necessities. It even provides me with an allowance for purchasing glasses or contacts. One thing that really shocked me is that my insurance also gives you a gift of 150 € after giving birth.
Blue Cross Blue Shield requires that you apply for maternity coverage at least 30 days before conception. In France, my health insurance covered my pregnancy even though I registered after I was pregnant. For the sake of this quick cost comparison, lets pretend that I began paying for maternity coverage before I was pregnant. My monthly rate goes from $291 to $511 per month.
Last year, I broke my finger while pregnant (who knew that eating and walking would be so dangerous). With this Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan, there is a $ 500 deductible and an out of pocket maximum of $ 5,000. For Emergency room care, I would have paid the first $ 500 and then 20 percent of the cost over that amount. So if the bill was $ 1,000, then I would have paid $ 600 out of pocket. I had two surgeries for my finger and 20 physical therapy session.
I do not know what a broken finger would cost in the USA. I heard that a broken leg can cost a few thousand. Lets underestimate by saying it will cost $ 1,000. So two surgeries would cost $ 800 out of my pocket. I think a physical therapy appointment is about $ 60 without insurance, and this health plan requires me to pay 20 % after I have reached my deductible. So for 20 appointments, I would pay $ 240. The total for my broken finger would have been at least $ 1,040.
If I make $ 65,000 per year, I would have $42,250 after taxes. After paying for health insurance, I am left with about $36,100. A broken finger would have further reduced it to about $35,100. So even if I paid 35 percent for taxes, medicare and social security, I spent 46 percent when I included the cost of health care.
Lets take this same situation but move me to France. If I was one of those poor souls paying 50 percent in taxes, I would have paid $32,500, leaving me with $ 32,500 of income. I would also be paying $40 per month for private insurance, so that would leave me with $ 32,020. I am completely covered, so I do not have to pay anything out of pocket when going to see the doctor or receive medication. I can also get a new pair of glasses and my teeth cleaned.
I would have about $ 34,678 in the USA versus $ 32,020 in France. Even though I would end up with more money in the USA, I would not have coverage for eye care and dental, plus paid per visit for all my other doctor appointments. I would also have to continue paying 20 percent of medical expenses until I reach the yearly limit of $ 5,000. Do not forgot that I did not start my health insurance until after I was pregnant, it was a surprise, so in the USA I would not have had maternity benefits. I can’t imagine what are the actual costs of having a baby in the USA .
My personal thoughts…
I remember when living in the USA people saying how they would never pay 50 percent in taxes in order to have social health care, and I was one of them. After living in France and experiencing what it is like to have this system, I have changed my tune. Not everyone pays 50 percent in taxes. The amount you pay depends on your type of work or business structure. Right now, I am paying 20.5 percent in taxes and my husband is paying 30 percent. Social security benefits are for everyone here, not only if you are poor, handicapped or retired (like in the USA). Health coverage in France is not a luxury, it is a right. That is the way it should be. Everyone should have the right to go to the doctor without worrying about the cost. I would not mind paying the 50 percent to have the peace of mind that if anything should happen to me, I am completely covered. I do not risk losing my savings or have to take out costly loans.
When you are sick, you need all your energy for getting better, not worrying about future bills, possibility of losing your house, or fighting with your insurance about coverage. I would gladly pay 50 percent in taxes to have the comfort of knowing that if I am very sick, I will not lose my home or savings. I do not have to worry about copayments, deductibles, or policy limits. Right now, I am 100 percent covered. If I get cancer, I will not pay more than I do for a tummy ache.
So for this example, I paid 46 percent of my income in the USA and 50 percent in France. If you also add the fact there is much more aid here for unemployment, maternity, and families – you come out ahead in France. I came to France with $ 40,000 in student loan debt. If I lived in France, most degrees cost less than 200 € per year. I could have become a doctor for less than 200 € per year. The French also believe that having an education is not a privilege, but a right.
For a country so set in being free, where did we go wrong? Whenever people talk about social health, we are given empty rhetoric about being free to choose where our money goes and how the government will have too much control over us. How we should not have to pay for our neighbor if he has lung cancer because he smoked too much. So what? We created the government, so make sure it has checks and balances. If most of Americans are Christians, why are they so adverse with helping their neighbors? And for those that are not Christians, they will be helping themselves in the long run.
I did not understand this when living in the USA. Now, I see that people in other countries no longer envy us, they feel sorry for us. No one should be refused health care coverage or services because of the inability to pay. Why does a woman at the age of 64 have to pay $ 600 per month on health care, or a woman at the age of 30 pay $ 500 per month when wanting to start a family. Not to mention, both must pay extra out of pocket. I think that receiving proper health care should be a right, not a privilege… and I am more than willing to put my tax dollars towards it.