Imagine Your Doctor Prescribing a Spa

How would you like a prescription to spend three weeks at a spa as part of your healthcare? All you have to do is become a French citizen. In France, doctors regularly prescribe spa treatments for anything from arthritis and bronchitis to gum disease and migraines. In 1947, the French government introduced “social thermalism” for the masses, proclaiming that “every man, whatever his social condition, has a right to thermal care if the state of his health demands it.” The full cure, consisting of treatments that use mineral water, mud and steam from naturally occurring hot springs, lasts 21 days — six days of treatments with Sundays off, over three consecutive weeks. You simply go see a doctor, they write you a prescription for a thermal cure, and your application is approved. The prescription normally comes with a list of the country’s 113 accredited thermal spas from which you can choose. Can you imagine the response in the United States if you turned in a request to your insurance company for a thermal spa to threat a sore throat?