Striking At The Drop Of A Hat

by Patrick Appel

A reader counters Reihan:

But whenever there's a move to tweak the system in some waysay, to gently nudge patients to get the approval of a general practitioner before seeing a specialistthe French go absolutely mad with rage. Doctors go on strike, massive street protests ensue, the riot police come out: it's a crazy scene.

I would submit that this says more about the nature of French politics rather than the nature of their health care.  Taking to the streets of Paris is, after all, a time-honored tradition.  By contrast, health care disputes in Canada tend to be rather less raucous.

But the essential point of the article is true:  government insurance means that premiums, coverage and so forth largely become political questions.  That's not necessarily a bad thing; political processes are subject to public pressure.Insurance companies, by contrast, are only rarely accountable to anything but the stockholders.


Striking, rioting, and street protests are pretty much the French response to everything.  Unions, rail workers, education professionals, service employees, bakers, air traffic controllers, journalists, bank tellers, ski lift operators, Princess of Cleves supporters (explain that one to me), hell even Eiffel Tower employees. The people who make Post-It notes have took their managers hostage.  And that's just in the last year.

Sometimes the French strike and protest just for the hell of it.  

Point being, I think French striking health care says less about the relative merits of health care systems than it does about the French.