As a former Mormon and return missionary, I had the privilege of witnessing health care at its inception in France (1969-1972). I and other students were on foreign language visas, and the French did not know what to do with us at the time. We were not allowed to enter as missionaries because the state religion was Catholic.

Anyway, when I got ill, I used the free medical system and it was great. The Mormons did not trust the French system and if they had gotten wind of my illness they would bring me to an awful American doctor in Paris. He was patronizing and incompetent. I actually had impacted wisdom teeth, and the infection was draining onto my stomach for the last year I was there. The French gave me Belladonna, which is an excellent anti-inflammatory and treats infection very well. It just happens to be illegal here in the States.

The American doctor and the Mormons treated me like I was a drug addict and persuaded me to throw away the pills. So for the last year I had migraines every day made worse when riding a moped on cobblestones. It was not the most pleasant of experiences. After that debacle, I simply went to the French doctors without telling the Mormons. Because they didn’t know me and I was in a different city each time, I was given a physical and a thorough exam. Then I was given medicine that was very cheap to free and it always did the trick and cured whatever was the problem.

The French healthcare system was and is a great system and the statistics prove it. The French have one of the longest life expectancies in the world. They export doctors all over the world as they graduate an excess of them. Doctors Without Borders is their philanthropic group. Perhaps we can get them to forgo sub-Saharan Africa and come to us, a Third World country as far as medical distribution goes.

Right now I have HIPPA (Health Insurance Accountability and Affordability Act) which permits my husband and me to have health care at $1,400 dollars per month. The way I look at it, that’s like a second house payment. I am going to have to take SSI (Supplemental Security Income) early at 63 to help with the premiums. Our co-pay is $1,500 per year and we pay at least $25 per doctor visit. I had breast cancer with this insurance in place, and I am one of the lucky ones because it was Stage One and we had health care. We are 58 and 63. My husband has had nothing but temporary jobs for five years since he was laid off at a major tool company that did not extend our COBRA. We are spending our retirement savings now to cover health care, and we are lucky that we had that savings. I know of people in worse situations. We are trying to live on little money for food, but we are surviving.

This is the richest country in the world, and has the best health care in the world, and I have a bridge I can sell you for real cheap if you believe that. We are ranked 37th as far as health care is concerned by the World Health Organization.

Sandra Bradshaw