It seemed like such a simple idea, designed to appeal to the little people (la france en bas). In a long speech on the future of who pays for the French health service, the Prime Minister posed the question “should a broken arm caused by a fall in the street be covered in the same way as one skiing?”. French skiers and snowboarders were horrified, already reeling from a part privatisation of off-piste rescue in February 2002 now it seemed they wouldn’t be covered if they turned up to hospital with a broken leg.
France has long prided itself on having one of the best, if not one of the most expensive health services in the world. But after the summer heat wave that left between 15,000 to 20,000 people dead, with bodies piling up in hospital morgues and even refrigerated lorries parked in car-parks, questions have been asked. The French Prime Minister would like reform, but between a bankrupt social security system, doctors and nurses taking advantage of a 35 hour week, promised tax cuts and European Union fiscal constraints his room for manoeuvre is limited. Hence the wheeze of making winter sports enthusiasts pay extra for their treatment. How this will affect tourists benefiting from reciprocal health treatment is one of the details yet to be thought through, however one thing is sure, insurance premiums will only go up if this measure is adopted.