As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes shape, it is often compared to European health care and, in particular, to the system in France. It’s an easy comparison to make: Both are built on a large, highly regulated private sector and rely mainly on third-party, employment-based insurers.

In the United States and France, workers and employers split the cost of health insurance. Both countries cringe at the thought of waiting lists for elective surgeries or to see a specialist, and both fear any system that would force them to give up their choice in medical providers.

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