Health care systems are highly complex and require vast resources. Moreover, providing healthcare coverage to all citizens can be challenging for many countries. Different models and theories abound all over the world about how best to provide care and only the most developed countries have adequate resources to truly provide universal coverage to their citizens.
Looking at various systems around the world and how they came into existence provide useful comparisons and illuminate how different countries have responded to very similar needs of their citizens as well as how to mitigate limitations and marshal opportunities offered in the diversity of these systems (Johnson & Stoskopf, 2010). This paper analyzes several health systems throughout the world, specifically focusing on Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom and compares how these systems differ from those in the United States.
Is Universal Coverage the ‘Gold Standard’
Universal health systems with single payers were introduced by several countries of the world after World War II and sought to guarantee that all individuals received needed care. While a system that provides universal care that does not leave citizens uninsured or underinsured is alluring, the realities are sometimes a stark contrast when cost is controlled at the expense of access to care. Furthermore, “single-payer systems do not have built-in incentives to control costs. The great equalizer - market competition - is not present” (Litow, 2007, p. 18) and therefore, universal health care systems cannot be considered the benchmark – or ‘gold standard’ – by which the success of other systems are measured. Further examining the experiences of countries with national health systems “shows that national health insurance means national health rationing” (Johnson & Stoskopf, 2010). While many European nations respond to social pressures to provide care for an aging population with limited resources, they must continually take those financial limits into account. Under the universal systems of Canada and the U.K., hybrid systems in Australia, Germany and Japan or the market system in the U.S., supply and demand are pushed into balance either by regulatory controls or by market competition. As with any limited resource, healthcare is supplied or allocated differently in various nations of the world.
Rationing of Services and Access to Care
Providing healthcare coverage to all citizens can be challenging to many countries and only the most developed countries have adequate resources to truly provide universal coverage to their citizens. Still, when coverage and resources are not sufficient, care is rationed through limited supply or limited access. Most countries have mechanisms in place, however, to insure that affordability does not limit access to necessary services.
All healthcare systems, regardless of funding mechanisms, ration the limited resources of health care to some degree (Petrou &...