Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Just in order to rent and watch "Sicko" tonight, John opened up a new account at Blockbuster (it's on the opposite side of town from us). I'd never watched a Michael Moore video in its entirety, and I've always been pretty skeptical of him, anyway. I sat on the couch, flipping through a book of knitting patterns, not at all interested in the movie...for the first ten seconds. "Sicko" was riveting. Yes, Michael Moore is known for exaggerating and embellishing the facts. But this movie is very well done, and highlights truths about our nation's healthcare.

Compared to so many others, John and I are very, very lucky. I got hired fairly quickly after college -- four months, but two after we moved here; and as I work for the state, we have very good health insurance. We do not, however, have free health insurance (oh, I wish!), and I recently found out how lacking the plan is in the area of expectant mothers. (No, not me. Not yet.). Basically, any dream of having a generous maternity leave, time with which a mother bonds with her new baby, recouperates from the birth, and gets a schedule and routine settled with the baby...has been completely shattered. Rather, the mother gets six weeks off, at the end of which time, if she has not come back to work, her job is no longer guaranteed to be waiting for her. The only bonus during this unpaid leave is that the job will make the health insurance payments in her stead. There are so many problems with this type of plan. It forces the mother to work up until her due date, for if she leaves work early, then she has a shorter amount of time with her baby after he or she is born (additionally, many daycares will not accept babies under the age of six weeks, thus it is imperative that the mother not begin maternity leave until right before the baby is born). The time she is away from work is time that she cannot contribute to the income of the family, so not only does she have the emotional stress of birth and bringing a new baby home, but also has money - or, rather, the lack thereof - on her mind.

How horrid!

Shortly after I found out about that, I was rereading one of my favourite books, about an American woman and her family who relocate to France. The author, while living in France, becomes pregnant and goes through the entire pregnancy and birth under French healthcare. Tests, tests, tests. Free. Maternity leave in France?

From AngloINFO Riviera:

Women are allowed 16 weeks maternity leave in France. You will receive an allowance during maternity off time. This time can be split to before or after birth as you choose. You must notify your employer by registered letter with delivery acknowledgement enclosing the proof of pregnancy and expected due date. If any problems are anticipated, the employer should be notified if you expect to be away from work for an extended period. By law, your job must be kept available to you. Maternity leave is also allowed to fathers.

Continuing the thought on parental leave:

If you choose to stop work or work part time after your maternity leave you are entitled to a parental leave (congé parental d'éducation). If you have more than one child and have worked for two out of the last five years you are entitled to an Allocation parentale d'enfant. The congé can be renewed until the third birthday of your child.

Now, John and I just have to decide where to move. Canada? England? France?

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