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France won’t cut spending on health care amid high social-security debt load

France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine
France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

France is not planning to reduce spending on health care or cut patient reimbursements as part of its drive to reign in public expenses, announced the country’s Health Minister Marisol Touraine on Saturday.


Touraine praised the country’s health protections as one of the best in the world.

"It's not just a philosophy; these are results, which make us one of the countries with the healthiest citizens and residents in the world,” said Touraine speaking on French radio Europe 1. “We must preserve that, even as we look for ways to save and to reorganise.”

France’s health care is one of the most expensive branches of the country’s social security, which also includes pensions, workplace accidents and family benefits.

This announcement comes just days after President Francois Hollande's pledged in his New Year address to clamp down on excesses and abuses in the country's welfare system.

Touraine said the government is looking for other ways to reduce costs for taxpayers but that health care was anything but a burden to society.

Cutting costs could come from more reliance on generic medication, encouraging payments to visit local clinics instead of hospitals, and developing surgery operations without checking patients into hospitals.

“We must not -- and it's not the government's policy -- move toward the reduction of reimbursements. That's what the last government did,” Touraine said. “It did not help matters, and the deficit continued to grow."

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