French health deficithits record high

15th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 15 (AFP) - France's ailing health insurance system for salaried workers showed a all-time record deficit last year of EUR 11.9 billion (USD 14.6 billion), an official government report revealed Wednesday.

PARIS, Sept 15 (AFP) - France's ailing health insurance system for salaried workers showed a all-time record deficit last year of EUR 11.9 billion (USD 14.6 billion), an official government report revealed Wednesday.  

The government accounting office, one of two bodies that monitors the social security budget, attributed the skyrocketing deficit to "state decisions" combined with a general increase in the public demand for health care services.  

"The deficit in the insurance branch, which nearly doubled from 2002 (EUR 6.1 billion) to 2003 (EUR 11.9 billion) is unprecedented," said the annual report by the Cour des Comptes, due to be officially released on Thursday.  

Salaried workers account for more than 80 percent of insurance payments in France.  

The global social security deficit, including the budgets for family, health, pensions and work-related accidents, stood at EUR 11.5 billion for 2003, more than triple the EUR 3.4 billion recorded the previous year.  

Although France's health care system was once hailed as one of the world's best, it is now battling both the massive deficit and a poor public image after last year's deadly heat wave that claimed 15,000 lives.  

In July, both houses of the French parliament approved the centre-right government's plan to overhaul the health insurance system, which includes a raft of cost-cutting measures to check the spiralling deficit.  

The plan asks patients to pay EUR 1 per medical consultation, encourages the use of generic drugs and cracks down on sick leave abuse.  

It calls for the use of computerized records as a way to trace a patient's medical history and pinpoint possible abuses such as over-prescription of drugs.  

When he presented the plan in May, French Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the government hoped the initiative would generate EUR 15 billion to EUR 16 billion in annual savings.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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