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How France Is Stepping Up Efforts To Reduce Social Disparity In Healthcare

Social disparity is a profound gap that often divides societies and has more to do with a multiplicity of reasons than with just one. Tackling a multidimensional issue like the differences in access to good healthcare for different social stratus is not an easy one. Read on to see which is the panorama and what is the French Government doing to reduce the gap and achieve equality.

Healthcare Is A Political Issue

French Government treats the access and provision of healthcare as a national worry and is included in the agenda every year. Since the year 2001, healthcare is assured for all legal French Residents. There is a compulsory payment that is deduced from the paycheck of every working person. The 65 million people population provides the income that funds most of the healthcare system of the country. The government dedicates almost 12% of the GDP to healthcare which is one of the highest in the world.

The reach of the system is very wide and despite all the efforts being made by the national government, the access to health is very different not only for different economical stratus but also different parts of the country. Mental health access specifically is one of the most uneven of them all and it was reported that more than 70% of the psychotropic drugs sold in France come from general practitioners´ prescriptions. Big cities hold the highest amount of professionals and sometimes the distances and waiting lines in public hospitals can be long.

Not Only Budget

France´s budget for healthcare is very high, the sixth in the world and the third in Europe. But it is not only budget what the French society needs to achieve optimum health care for all citizen alike. There is a much more profound subject that has to be tackled and is very closely related to social inequality. Those coming from lower economic stratus tend to be more vulnerable and the prevention efforts done by the French Government seem to be useless or, at least, not as effective as they would like to. Health inequalities and social inequalities can´t be divorced as a subject of national concern and the French State´s effort could be directed towards extending the network and reaching those in more desperate need rather than concentrating on the big cities.

The principle of National Solidarity over which the welfare State in French is based on speaks about sharing the responsibility throughout the society as a whole and as such, it compels the government to reach out for those in need. The levels of obesity and lung cancer due to cigarettes abuse are way higher in the most vulnerable stratus of society. This is an indicator that concerns the health system.


Prevention as the first step of an integral health solution needs to be applied to those sectors of society where it is needed the most. The effort that the French Government is doing should be directed towards assisting those in more desperate need rather than flooding the big cities with state-of-the-art facilities for those whose wallet allows them to assist. Inequality starts with income and affects healthcare and not the other way around.


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