The Health Systems in Transition (HiT) profiles are country-based reports that provide a detailed description of a health system and of policy initiatives in progress or under development. HiTs examine different approaches to the organization, financing and delivery of health services and the role of the main actors in health systems; describe the institutional framework, process, content and implementation of health and health care policies; and highlight challenges and areas that require more in-depth analysis. The French health care system is a mix of public and private providers and insurers. Public insurance, financed by both employees and employer contributions and earmarked taxes, is compulsory and covers almost the whole population, while private insurance is of a complementary type and voluntary. Providers of outpatient care are largely private. Hospital beds are predominantly public or private non-profit-making. The French population enjoys good health and a high level of choice of providers. It is relatively satisfied with the health care system. However, as in many other countries, the rising cost of health care is of concern with regards to the objectives of the health care system. Many measures were or are being implemented in order to contain costs and increase efficiency. These include, for example, developing pay-for-performance for both hospitals and self-employed providers and increasing quality of professional practice; refining patient pathways; raising additional revenue for statutory health insurance (SHI); and increasing the role of voluntary health insurance (VHI). Meanwhile, socioeconomic disparities and geographic inequality in the density of health care professionals remain considerable challenges to providing a good level of equity in access to health care. Organizational changes at the regional level are important in attempting to tackle both equity and efficiency-related challenges. While the organizational structure of the system remained very stable until the mid 1990s, in the following decade many changes occurred and several new institutions were created. Concurrently, the respective power and involvement of the parliament, government, local authorities and SHI in the policy-making process have evolved. However, the Ministry of Health has retained substantial control over the health system, although ongoing reforms at both the regional and the national levels may challenge its traditional role. This edition of the French HiT was written concurrently with the vote and implementation of the 2009 Hospital, Patients, Health and Territories Act, which dramatically changed again the organizational structure and management of the health care system at the regional and local level. In order to ensure a comprehensive description and understanding of the system, the HiT, therefore, describes both the previous organization and the reorganization following the Act. However, the implementation process of the Act and its formal application was still a work in progress at the time of completing the French HiT.
World Health Organization 2010, on behalf of the European Observatory on health systems and Policies.