Our country’s health care structure has been heavily debated since its inception, and we somehow still have the most expensive system in the world. Much of the debating comes from news of what works in other countries, but we can’t copy smaller countries because their structure may not work with our larger population.
It’s hard to imagine what other countries could possibly be doing differently that saves money without sacrificing care. We’ve broken some of them down so you can see the differences.
Essentially everyone in the U.K. has access to free health care. Even visitors receive free emergency care! That comes with a different kind of price, though. As the U.K. tries to cut costs, quality of care decreases.
Australia’s health care system is called Medicare, but it is available for all citizens, not only seniors. It is almost entirely government-funded, 25% strictly through the Australian government and 43% from the Commonwealth.
In France, doctor’s appointments essentially cost one euro, which is currently worth a bit more than one American dollar. Patients pay with a card and receive 100% reimbursement later, minus one euro to help fund nation-wide health care activities. Special care and drugs are reimbursed at about 70% and patients have the option to purchase additional coverage.
Belgium is highly regarded as having one of the most efficient health care systems worldwide. Care facilities, much like in the U.S., range from privately owned to government run and non-profits. Citizens can choose whatever facility they want to visit, with no limitations on insurance.
Like in France, all Belgian patients use a care card at all of their appointments. Belgian cards will later provide reimbursement of up to 75%. Charges will come through payroll or a bank account.
Germany may be most similar to the U.S., as patients pay about 13% of their income to what is essentially health insurance. Uniquely, Germany often bundles accident and long-term insurance with their traditional health care plans. Everything is federally regulated, so Germans can choose any health care facility they like. The unemployed, who make up about a third of the German population, are funded separately.
Sweden is very regulated as well. Their health care system is 70% funded by taxes. Regulation is less centralized than most European countries – they have 21 councils throughout the country that regulate health care, social welfare, and water supplies. Treatments and drugs involve a small fee, and drug costs are capped at the equivalent of about $163 per year.
Our system is fundamentally similar to European systems in some ways. It’s easy to wonder if we may be headed towards a more Universal U.K.-like system or at least a more centralized Belgian-like system. We could also head in another way entirely – it’s hard to say. Where do you think we’ll end up?