By Katharina Janus and Etienne Minvielle
2017 was an election year in two major European countries: in Germany, Angela Merkel was elected for the third time in September; and in France, Emmanuel Macron took office in May. It is too early to tell whether these elections will lead to significant reforms in health care in these countries.
Unlike the United States, where abolishing Obamacare was a key pillar of the new president’s pre-election platform and a big focus of his first year in office, Germany and France seem to agree that they would, in general, like to keep the systems they have. After all, they perform relatively well in terms of outcomes, life expectancy, and other critical indicators in comparison to resources consumed as a percentage of GDP. President Macron said he stands for “une Europe qui protège”—a Europe that protects its values while addressing everyday challenges and the large-scale disruption of globalization. This protection—in the sense of keeping established frameworks while learning from each other—might describe the French-German axis at its best. Both systems are based on old cultures and established values that permit nearly universal coverage at much lower costs than those of the United States health care systems while achieving equal or better outcomes. What can we learn nevertheless from each other across the pond, taking the newly established European axis as one unit and the evolving United States system as the example from a new world.