Health Care: America vs. the World
This PBS piece compares a number of health care systems.
Canada and the United Kingdom have universal health care systems with all persons covered, and they pay about half per citizen what we pay – about the same as we pay for Medicare, Medicaid, military healthcare, and the VA system.
Unlike the US system, and because they cover everyone for all health conditions, they don’t waste billions finding reasons to deny care or shuffling responsibility. Anyone who has had to face the VA system can tell you how that generally works out in the US.
Then we have Switzerland. They have a very strong version of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” It has a personal mandate for all citizens, but is essentially a private healthcare system. It does have subsidies for lower income people and the unemployed – including refugees. They are more substantial than the US version though. They also have caps on what services and treatments can cost, and limits on medical debt – no one goes bankrupt in Switzerland over medical expenses, although they may have difficulty with their insurance premiums. They still spend about half of what the US does per citizen, though a bit more than Canada and the UK.
In Brazil (which is not covered in the piece) they have a combination private/public healthcare system. All citizens, residents, and even tourists, can get healthcare for any health condition at public hospitals or “Posts.” Brazil is a relatively poor nation compared to those covered in the PBS piece, with a minimum wage of about $180 per month, yet even they manage this task of making sure everyone has access to healthcare.
The private healthcare system is another beast, and that ends up resembling the Swiss system to some extent, but without the mandate. These facilities will be more recognizable to North American and European residents, having more up to date equipment and well maintained and decorated facilities.This system delivers healthcare to most professionals, and does so at a fraction of the cost of even the Swiss system, working with the public system where practical, especially for out of hospital medications.
It is difficult to understand the reticence of Americans to change what seems to be the very worst health care system in the developed world.