I've been sick these past two weeks, and, if you're sick in France, you have to get a note from your doctor. Part of deal when everyone's covered is that you don't get to just call in sick.
I had the flu followed immediately by tracheitis. If I were working in the US, it's unlikely that I'd be covered and I would have just called in sick, stayed home, and self-medicated with ibuprofen and OTC cough syrup (the cough is really bad - I've fainted a few times, thrown up, and can't sleep through the night because of it).
In France, though, I get some help from the state. While I don't yet have a Carte Vitale, which is a card that automatically pays the government's share of all medical expenses. I'll have to mail in my receipts to get reimbursed (probably 70%) later. Still, though, I've had two doctors visits at 30 euro each, a prescription drug for the flu that cost 3 euro for a week's worth, a sack of prescription drugs for the tracheitis (including cough syrup that actually works) for 14 euro, some free masks for when I take the subway, and a recommendation for a chest X-ray that'll cost 25 euro.
Not bad even if I don't get reimbursed. I get real treatments and peace of mind for much less than I'd pay in the US, and my employer is assured that I'm actually sick (thus there's no need for sick days, at least where I work). I got to see whatever doctor I wanted to see and go to the pharmacy just down the street. The dreaded waiting list was about 2 hours long since I called for an appointment before the doctor was in.
For that, France pays $3,374 per person. The US pays $7,290. Where does that difference go? It's called getting fleeced. It's looting. It's "Your money or your life" on a 300,000,000 person scale. And it's unlikely that we can do anything about it since our leaders are beholden to the money that looting showers on them.