France : the UHC isn’t run directly by the state but by an organization whose board is made up of representants of employers and unions, for historical reasons. However, changes have to be passed into a law by the state (otherwise, obviously, they couldn’t be mandatory).
For employed people (and unemployed still receiving unemployment benefits) and retired people, it’s deducted from the paycheck or retirement benefit. Self-employed people pay it directly, for indigents, it’s paid for by the government, and for individually wealthy individuals it used to be a voluntary subscription.
In the general case of employed people, it’s a percentage of the salary, capped at some level. Apparently (not something I usually pay much attention to) it’s 9.7% of the salary.
Besides the UHC, many people also have a complementary insurance (more about that later).
The overwhelming majority of large hospitals are public. Private hospitals are typically either little clinics where you’re more pampered but won’t go for something very serious or at the contrary specialized in in a specific activity (say, eye surgery). In public hospital, you pay €15-20 (can’t remember exactly) per day + about the same amount for every medical act (be it a cast or an heart transplant). Most of it is then reimbursed to you by the UHC. So, the out of pocket cost is probably some Euros/day. Private hospitals are free to fix their prices as they see fit.
Doctors not working in hospitals are in their overwhelming majority private practitioners. The UHC fix the cost of a visit (currently €23 for a generalist, maybe €35 or so for a specialist, more for home calls that are still quite common here) and of all specific acts a doctors might have to do. Most of it is reimbursed by the UHC (For a generalist, for instance, €22 if you’re registered with a specific doctor as your primary care provider, €17 if you’ve decided not to). Typically you pay upfront, hand your doctor your UHC card, he fills an online form and the reimbursment is automatically wired to your account.
Doctors aren’t obligated to apply those fixed costs, even though they have some fiscal incentives to do so. Regardless of what was actually charged, the UHC always reimburses the same amount. Most generalists apply the UHC prices. Most specialist overcharge (for instance, I paid yesterday €50 to see a random dermatologist. My mother paid last month something like €120-150 to see a reputed specialist). Finally, dentists charge way, way more than the UHC prices, which are ludicrously low for them.
For prescribed drugs, there are various rates of reimbursment, from 0% to 100% depending on the importance and efficiency of the drug. Typically, you hand over your UHC card to the pharmacist, and pay only whatever isn’t reimbursed if anything. The UHC pays directly the pharmacist for the rest.
People with serious chronic conditions (cancer, AIDS,…) don’t pay anything upfront and are fully covered for all medical expenses.
I would also note that there isn’t to my knowledge any “waiting list” for surgeries or such procedures as it seems to be the case in Canada, for instance.
Finally, about complementary insurances : the majority of people (I think, but it’s probably not the case for the poorest citizens) have one, generally a mutual insurance. A mutual insurance being a non profit organization whose board is elected by the insured. They originated in mutual assistance societies created maybe one century ago by say, steel industry workers, or Paris small business owners, etc…Nowadays, most take in anybody although some are still tied to a specific company or public service (teachers, for instance).
They cover whatever isn’t covered by the UHC, in particular doctors’ overcharges I mentioned above (and they’re invaluable for dental care, glasses, hearing aids… very poorly covered by the UHC), things like an individual bedroom in an hospital and often other somewhat related risks (for instance in case of disability preventing me from working, mine would pay me an income complement. I used to have one that covered burial expenses). The specific conditions, coverage limit, prices, vary a lot. I don’t even remember how much mine costs, but I believe it’s in the € 50 /month range.
You asked about complaints, but frankly I don’t have any. There will always be people grumbling about something or another, but honestly I think we should be very happy of what we have. The main issue, however, is the future funding of this system with a population getting older, and suffering from costly ailments (in particular, the issue of people who can’t take care of themselves anymore, due to major age-related mental of physical disabilities is talked about a lot). I’m 47 but I’m not sure the system will still be anywhere as good when I’ll be (hopefully) 87.