The French Health Care System III: Prescriptions

Today was productive. I managed to make a lab appointment for blood tests, a echogram appointment at the nearest hospital, and to have all my prescriptions filled at the pharmacy.

In France, there’s a pharmacy on every corner. The French take their medicines very seriously. Unlike in the over-the-counter United States, most medicines are only available in a pharmacy. It took me quite a while to get used to the fact that I couldn’t get ibuprofen at my weekly visit to the grocery store. Instead, I could only get a pack of 10 or so pills at the pharmacy…and only by requesting it.

I’m not sure what to think about that. I suppose it is helpful, since being a foreigner here, I wouldn’t know what I was looking at if they DID give easy access to everything anyway.

The positives of the French system are that I got all this (pictured below) and only paid meds4 euros 90 centimes for the one thing that wasn’t covered. The rest totaling under 30 euros was covered both by the system and our top-up insurance.

If I were to purchase these same items in the same quantities over a three-month period from the United States (assuming they were available), I would have paid over an estimated $200 without insurance. It’s no mystery that prescriptions are outrageously priced in the United States. That’s capitalism for ya!

The one aspect of capitalism I do miss is walking into a Whole Foods type of store and having my choice of supplements and vitamins to choose from. I also miss stores like Walgreens and CVS, where I can get my hands on any over-the-counter medication without having to speak to a single soul.

So far, though, I have to give the points on this round to socialized healthcare!