A country’s healthcare system is fundamental to promoting and maintaining the well-being of its population. From preventive care, diagnosis, and treatment to rehabilitation, accessible and quality healthcare not only improves the community’s health outcomes but also contributes to a nation’s overall social and economic development.
Furthermore, a good healthcare system plays a crucial role in reducing healthcare disparities and achieving equitable access to medical services for all members of society, regardless of their socioeconomic background. By investing in robust healthcare systems, countries can foster healthier communities, ultimately leading to enhanced societal well-being and development.
Understanding The U.S. Healthcare System
The United States is a highly developed country that takes pride in its medical achievements and substantial health budget for patient care, research, public insurance, disease monitoring, and immunization initiatives. But, this comparison made by Medicalaid on the healthcare situations of the United States and Peru revealed that even with the local, state, and federal government’s participation in healthcare in the U.S., loopholes in care remain challenging.
However, the U.S. healthcare system has evolved over the years – from private medical insurance to the Affordable Care Act. It’s a mix of public and private sectors in its present iteration. The government manages two programs, Medicare and Medicaid, while employers and individual policyholders shoulder private insurance.
While both government programs provide health insurance, they serve different populations and have varying eligibility requirements. Here’s a closer look:
- Medicare: This federal health insurance program serves people over 65 and certain disabled individuals, like those with end-stage renal disease, irrespective of their income.
- Medicaid: This joint federal-state program serves low-income individuals, pregnant women, and families. It offers health insurance to those who might otherwise go without, including some of the most vulnerable populations. Considering it’s a joint program, the coverage and eligibility vary across different states.
On the other hand, private insurance is largely paid for by employers, with employees and their families heavily dependent on this benefit. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in the U.S., about 155 million are dependent on employer-sponsored coverage. However, patients are still reeling over the costs of deductibles that have increased by 68% since 2011.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, makes it possible for those from low-income families who need expanded or more coverage individually or as a family but can’t afford the usual spending for private insurance to get protected for less.
An Overview Of Health System Of Other Countries Worldwide
Health and healthcare systems were ranked in 2023 based on health outcomes and access to services to achieve good health. The top 13 performers out of 167 countries were Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany. Australia was in 21st place, Canada at 32nd, and the U.K. at 34th. Unexpectedly, the U.S. ranked a distant 69th, with Peru ahead of it in the 52nd place!
Universal Health Coverage (UHC) And Cost-Sharing
UHC is a measure of how well a country provides essential services suitable to the needs of the population and how effectively these services improve overall health. In 2021, Canada topped other countries with a UHC rating of 91/100. Meanwhile, the U.S. only scored 86.
In terms of spending, the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other nation. Much of this cost is shouldered by private insurers, the government, and out-of-pocket expenses by individuals. In 2019, 12.7% of healthcare spending in the U.S. came directly from patients’ pockets. Yet, universal healthcare has yet to be achieved by the U.S. On the other hand, everyone in England has public insurance and is hospitalized through the National Health Service in the U.K. without any co-payment whatsoever.
Some countries also practice cost-sharing. For instance, Germany’s statutory health insurance model ensures patients rarely face high out-of-pocket costs, while Japan maintains a universal healthcare system supported by mandatory health insurance for all residents.
In Australia, the country adopts a mixed healthcare model, combining a public Medicare program with a thriving private insurance industry to provide comprehensive coverage to its population. Another example is South Korea, which has implemented a National Health Insurance system that functions as a compulsory social insurance self-payment system. Meanwhile, Singapore takes a unique approach to healthcare, mandating health savings accounts, supplemented by a government-run insurance program and additional private spending.
Despite diverse models, all these nations tend to achieve better health outcomes at a lower per capita cost compared to the U.S. They also often report higher patient and practitioner satisfaction.
Developing Countries Comparison
Let’s compare the U.S. system with healthcare in developing countries like Peru, the Philippines, Columbia, and Haiti. These nations have significantly lower healthcare expenditures, but that often comes with reduced access and quality of care. Moreover, out-of-pocket expenses can be a significant financial burden for families in these countries.
In Colombia, a country once noted for its healthcare innovation, a dual system exists with public and private healthcare options. Peru also operates a dual system but has been working to increase its public healthcare network. The Philippines, on the other hand, relies heavily on private healthcare providers, making access to care particularly problematic for low-income individuals. Meanwhile, Haiti has a healthcare system that largely depends on external funding and personal expenditures, leaving many of the population without reliable access to care.
The U.S. healthcare system is a subject of continual debate due to its high costs, inequitable access, and mixed outcomes. Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. spends significantly more per capita on healthcare but often fails to achieve commensurate health outcomes.
Developed countries like Canada, the U.K., and Germany generally offer universal or near-universal coverage with better health outcomes at lower costs. On the other hand, developing nations struggle to provide consistent and high-quality care to their populations, highlighting the global disparities in healthcare access and quality.
In light of these comparisons, the question of how to best structure healthcare policy remains a critical issue for the United States and nations worldwide.