Top 9 Health Care Systems in the World

Posted 10/17/11 on the Medical Billing and Coding Blog

There has been much debate in recent years about whether health care is a privilege or right. While securing coverage for every U.S. citizen has been a priority for years, people often overlook the overall quality — or lack thereof — of our health care system. Without question, improvements can be made. Problems such as delays in obtaining care and care coordination persist — according to SocGen’s Albert Edwards, it’s the most inefficient — and surveys have shown dissatisfaction from patients throughout the country. So, how does it stack up against other health care systems around the world? Ultimately, that’s to be decided by those who’ve studied and experienced a multitude of them firsthand. But here’s an informal list — in no particular order — of the world’s best based on positive facts and reviews.

  1. Japan

    The two primary factors working in Japan’s favor are its healthy population — a girl born today is expected to live to 86, according to a paper in the Lancet series — and low per capita health care costs. It’s not difficult to find competent, affordable care for an average citizen when problems arise, a distinction that differs from many other first world countries. Japan also boasts excellent recovery rates from most major diseases and a low infant mortality rate — three per 1,000 live births — which is less than half than the United States’ live birth rate of 6.8 per 1,000.

  2. France

    With a universal health care system that offers a choice in hospitals, doctors, and care, France has found a happy medium of liberty, quality, and coverage for its citizens. According to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, 42% of French patients with chronic diseases could secure same-day appointments — compared to just 26% in the United States — and thus the nation has the lowest rate of deaths that could’ve been prevented with the presence of basic health care. Routinely praised for its overall performance, France’s system was ranked No. 1 by the World Health Organization in 2000.

  3. Italy

    Most Italians don’t carry health insurance simply because the government covers most of their medical bills, and even still, it boasts low rates of public health care spending per capita compared to countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, France, and the United States. And the results are still good — the nation ranks 12th in life expectancy in the world, with the average Italian living 80.5 years. Recently, regions such as Lombardy have raised their standards and given patients the option to choose between private and public hospitals, either of which can provide excellent care.

  4. Switzerland

    Many Americans have said the Swiss system should serve as model for the U.S. system, as insurers are required to offer coverage to each citizen without considering their age or medical history, while each citizen is required to purchase health insurance. Popular with the public, it encourages competition and is low on regulations, attributes certainly valued in the United States. Switzerland has the 16th lowest infant mortality rate (4.19) in the world and fourth best life expectancy rate (81.7) in the world.

  5. Spain

    In Spain, universal coverage is a constitutionally guaranteed right, and it contains no out-of-pocket expenses. Patients complain about long waits to see specialists and undergo certain procedures, but Spain has a third fewer deaths due to delayed access than the United States, for example. There’s an abundance of quality clinics and doctors all over the country, which are open to undocumented immigrants and the unemployed. Spain ranks just behind Switzerland in infant mortality rate (4.21) and ranks sixth in the world in life expectancy (80.9).

  6. Netherlands

    Patients in the Netherlands who’ve suffered long-term health issues don’t have to experience financial despair, as state-controlled mandatory insurance takes care of them. Low income patients are given assistance so they won’t go without treatment when needed, and children under 18 are covered for free. Premiums are not influenced by age or health status. It’s an egalitarian system, but, if patients wish to opt out, they can have their tax money saved in a private health care savings account. Traditionally, women prefer to give birth at home naturally, and the nation still has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States.

  7. Taiwan

    As Taiwan became more economically prosperous during the 1980s and 1990s, it was forced to overhaul its health care system to ensure the entire country was covered. Remarkably, its national insurance system provides equal access for everyone with free choice of doctors and minimal waits before receiving care. Also impressive is the way in which everything is consolidated — the country’s smart card system not only enables doctors to view patients’ history and medications, but allows the government to know if people are abusing the system.

  8. Norway

    Norway’s health care system is mostly financed by its government, ensuring affordable doctor’s visits and a yearly cap for patients with mounting medical bills. More unconventional methods of reducing the number patients seeking care have contributed to the efficiency of the system. For example, a major cutback in administering antibiotics resulted in fewer infections and thus fewer deaths caused by the problem. Valuing patient safety is what sets Norway apart from other countries, and now, many are mimicking their methods.

  9. Sweden

    Costs are kept at a minimum for patients who utilize Sweden’s health care system. For example, a relatively small sum of money, about the equivalent of $250, covers a patient’s medications for an entire year — the government covers the rest. A cap on health care fees ensures patients can afford to battle long-term health problems without worrying about being financially crippled. The system has been effective, as Sweden’s life expectancy rate is the fifth best in the world (80.9) and infant mortality rate is the third best in the world (2.75).

About Brian Klepper

Brian Klepper is a health care analyst and the Chief Development Officer of WeCare TLC onsite clinics.
This entry was posted in Analytics, Benefits, Medical Management, Physicians, Policy/Law/Regulation, Quality and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Top 9 Health Care Systems in the World

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  2. Maggie Wu says:

    What wrong with America ?? The number most powerful country with no health insurance. Where is our tax money go to ?? If you traveling around other countries. This is not the most beautiful countries. Many thing are wrong.
    I love America but I hated the sysytem. Rich get richer , the poor one get poorer. And the health care is every day life. What we all the people making money for, to have better life. Are we better then Taiwan , France or all other 8 countries ?? No at all!! Big shame !!

    Maggie

  3. An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew about it, they would demand it)

    Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”.
    She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

    I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider.
    Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?”
    which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

    http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm

    John Steinsvold

    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
    ~ Albert Einstein

  4. Nero says:

    America should fine tune a better health system to it people, rather than subjecting them into a system of drain and squalor. It is a deliberate attempt to enslaving people economically and enriching the bourgeois who owned and run this so called “tax insurance” rather than health insurance. It is a shame to this great nation to settle for such a ungraceful system of health system.

  5. Cattyface says:

    Hey guys don’t feel bad Canada didn’t even make the list and we have healthcare coverage!! It just sucks now-.-

  6. I believe the comparison to other countries is critical to change the US health care system. If you review the most recent reports from IOM and The Commission on Physician Payment you will find no reference to other countries. All we get are recommendations for more study and no recommendations for action. I guess they just can’t say “Gee, France has better health care than we do, let’s try some of their ideas.” The Chinese love to copy things that work — what is our hangup — health care systems are not copyrighted!

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