Sick Around the World

The World Health Organization ranks the Untied States health care system as 37th in the world in terms of quality and fairness. We can learn lessons from other countries. The health care system in Great Britain may seem too close to socialism for Americans, the NHS covers everybody, there are no fees, the system covers everybody. Great Britain also has has longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality than the United States. Although there is good care in Great Britain, patients must wait to see a doctor. The health care is paid for out of tax revenue, so essentially the government owns the hospital. Because of this, doctors are salary government employees, and most people in Britain like the system. Most British people go their whole lives without ever getting a medical bill, so there is no medical bankruptcy. Nigel Hawks from the Times offers a critical perspective: primary care and family doctor service is very good, emergency care is not as good, and elective care has improved as waiting times have decreased. In America, health care providers compete to make more money, in Britain, they compete to survive. They do not want to lose patients. Bonuses that GP’s have the ability to receive are incentives to keep people healthy, so GPs aggressively promote services.

Tokyo, Japan has a capitalistic economy, and is the second richest country in the world. The health care system in Japan covers every body, and they still spend half as much per capita on health care in comparison to the U.S. They do not pay for health care through high taxes, like Britain does. The government pays for those that cannot afford it. Doctors offices and hospitals are private, and surveys show high satisfaction among Japanese population. Annual physicals keep population healthy. Japan also has more technology than Americans and Brits do in terms of health care, and costs are .5% of its operating costs, which are very low in comparison to U.S. costs. Additionally in Japan, there is no waiting list to see a doctor or specialist. Although Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world, it is 50% in financial deficit: they spend too little on medicine, and prices are not high enough to balance the books. Price increases in the future will be needed to help hospitals from growing broke (In U.S., patients go broke over financial costs).

Germany is the third richest country in the world. As for health care, they have the same waiting time as the U.S.  Premiums are paid based on incomes to private sharers, and there are many to choose from. The quality is excellent, there is no difference between U.S. and Germany. Standard prices are negotiated before being put on the market. Also, drugs are cheaper in Germany than in the U.S. because sickness funds negotiate these prices as well. Hospitals themselves cannot raise prices. The downfall to their system is that by U.S. standards, the doctors are not paid very well. Doctors protested in Berlin in organized marches, but nothing changed.

Taiwan looked abroad for healthcare ideas. In this small island country, one government insurer collects money and no one can otp out. This is similar to medicare for elderly in the United States. There is no wait time in Taiwan, and health care providers are open on weekends. They have the lowest administrative cost in the world. They spend little on healthcare, but they are still in debt.

Switzerland offers high quality universal coverage and forces everyone to have healthcare. The Swiss view healthcare as a basic human right.

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