Differences In Countries' Healthcare Systems Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Healthcare Type: Essay Paper: #62190220 Related Topics: Family Medical Leave Act, Pluralism, Family And Medical Leave Act, Germany
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Healthcare Systems

healthcare system is regarded as one of the most expensive across the globe though it underperforms as compared to other developed and/or advanced countries. The states of America's healthcare system relative to its costs have attracted considerable attention from policymakers, health experts, and business leaders. These various stakeholders continue to look for viable means of improving and reforming the system in order to enhance its efficiency and improve performance. One of the major ways towards this process is comparing the U.S. healthcare system with those of other countries in terms of costs and efficiency. This article compares the American healthcare system with that of Canada and Germany with regards to costs, services provided, and outcomes like infant mortality and insurance coverage.

United States, Canada, and Germany Health Care Systems

As previously mentioned, the American healthcare system is the most expensive throughout the world though it significantly underperforms across many performance measures and indicators as compared to those of other countries, especially advanced countries. Consequently, the nation's healthcare system has attracted several concerns given its troubling state that has made it difficult to realize improved health outcomes in comparison to other countries. In light of the various measures of health outcomes, efficiency, and quality, the United States is ranked the lowest as the country's healthcare practitioners experience significant difficulties in obtaining timely information, dealing with administrative challenges, and coordinating care services (Davis et. al., 2014). Generally, the United States healthcare system is ranked last among the healthcare systems of rich countries. The United States healthcare system is based on private markets and pluralism model, which has contributed to the lack of a single national system for healthcare coverage.

The Canadian healthcare system is based on a single payer system, which has enabled it to express and reflect the essential equality of the nation's citizens. The country has adopted a national health insurance program, which is a health insurance system run by the government that covers the whole Canadian population for a clearly-defined medical benefits package. The use of a fee-for-service system in Canada's healthcare system is partly attributed to the fact that the country has a capitalist economy. However, the healthcare plan in Canada's fee-for-service healthcare system is administered by governmental agencies. Moreover, Canada's health sector has universal coverage for healthcare services, which implies that all citizens have medical coverage. Unlike the United States, the costs of health plans in Canada are paid by provincial governments via subscriber premiums and taxes. The provincial governments that pay for health plans receive extra funds based on a grants system and transfer of funds emerging from individual and corporate income tax revenues (Baribault & Cloyd, 1999).

Germany's healthcare system is based on socialized medicine model whose origins are in the mutual aid societies that were developed in early 19th Century. In essence, the country's healthcare system incorporates social benefits that are based on the notion of social insurance as incorporated in social solidarity principle. Based on this principle, the government is obliged to offer several social benefits to all citizens such as medical care, unemployment insurance, maternity benefits, old age pensions, disability payments, and other kinds of social welfare. Healthcare coverage in Germany is provided through a wide range of seemingly small and independent health plans. However, the country is dependent on a mandated approach through which coverage for particular conditions is required by law. In addition, Germany introduced cost controls that are similar to some of the measures adopted by the United States, especially in relation to prospective payment.

Differences in Healthcare Systems of These Countries

As evident in the above discussion, there are significant differences in the healthcare systems of the United States, Canada, and Germany. These differences largely emerge from the fact that the United States healthcare system is based on private markets and pluralism while Canadian system is based on universal coverage and German system is based on socialized medicine. The other ways through which these health care systems differ include

Healthcare Costs

One of the major differences between these healthcare systems is the costs of healthcare services in each of the countries. As previously indicated, United States healthcare system is the most expensive worldwide, which implies that the country has the highest costs of healthcare services...


Actually, the high costs of America's healthcare services and increased governmental expenditures on health have been one of the significant disadvantages of this health system. The U.S. healthcare costs have continued to rise at a faster pace than other governmental expenditures with total healthcare expenditures amounting to more than 15% of the country's gross domestic product (Baribault & Cloyd, 1999). The increased health expenditures have been accompanied by a huge number of uninsured or underinsured populations that continues to rise. While the healthcare costs in the United States continue to increase, there is a considerable increase in the number of the uninsured or underinsured. Healthcare costs have also increased at more than 10% annually, especially administrative costs of healthcare.

On the contrary, Canada has a relatively expensive healthcare system, which accounts for 11% of the country's gross domestic product. The total healthcare costs in Canada are projected to rise beyond $214.9 billion as more people are included in the universal coverage model. The projections are based on the fact that expenditure continues to increase throughout health-related factors though at a slower pace as considered to previous years. Despite the high costs of healthcare services in Canada, the country spends relatively lower on health-related costs as compared to the United States. The relatively lesser expenditures on healthcare are attributed to the fact that approximately 70% of healthcare spending in Canada's covered by provincial and territorial governments. Even though the government provides funding to these governments, a huge percentage of healthcare costs are covered by provincial and territorial governments. This helps in reducing the overall healthcare expenditures covered by the government contributing to lesser costs as compared to America. Canada spends far less than America despite being based on fee-for-service system like the U.S.

Healthcare costs in Germany are relatively cheaper as compared to the United States and Canada since the German government has successfully managed to rein in the costs of care. In the past few years, the country's healthcare expenditures have risen by an average of approximately 1.4%. The recent increase in Germany's health care system is attributed to medical cost inflation and demographics. However, the country's health expenditures account for slightly over 10% of its gross domestic product. The major way through which the German government has successfully reduced costs is through creating a sickness fund where every resident must belong. The sickness fund insures all residents and provides coverage for a standard set of benefits that include medical processes and medications. In this case, employees pay 50% of their sickness fund while employers take care of the rest. Moreover, the German government caters for the healthcare costs of the unemployed and children and has established limits on out-of-pocket expenditures. As a result, Germany's health care expenditures are relatively less than those of Canada and the United States.

Services Provided

Even though the Canadian healthcare system has provinces and territories that administer their own universal health coverage programs that cover all provincial and territorial residents, the services provided are similar across the provinces and territories. The services provided in the Canadian healthcare system include primary care, outpatient specialist care, after-hours care, mental health care, and long-term care (Thomson et. al., 2013). On the contrary, the medical care services provided in the United States healthcare system are relatively similar to those in Canada's system though the United States has included physicians care. Germany's health care system also provides similar health services to the United States and Canada but also includes hospital care. The differences in these services provided in these countries' healthcare systems is coverage for the services, which is dependent on the health coverage model adopted by the specific country.


The other significant way with which the healthcare systems in these countries is through outcomes with regards to pre/post natal care, infant mortality, insurance coverage, roles of healthcare providers, and family medical leave. The United States has a relatively high infant mortality rate, which has enhanced the chances of premature babies to survive because of the country's state of technology. However, a huge percentage of the American population is uninsured and underinsured. Lack of health insurance coverage to a huge population has created medical access issues and inability to control costs effectively. The lack of health insurance has continued to be a major problem despite the multi-payer approach by public and private sectors. Pre/post natal care in the United States is not easily accessible and affordable, especially for the uninsured and underinsured. Medications for pre/post natal care are not provided for free, which contributes to affordability issues of pre/post natal care services. The role of healthcare providers in the U.S. healthcare system involves shared responsibilities among physicians, nurses, and…

Sources Used in Documents:


Baribault, M. & Cloyd, C. (1999, July 26). Health Care Systems: Three International Comparisons. Retrieved from Stanford University website: https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/soc_sec/health.htm

Davis et. al. (2014, June 16). Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally. Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2014/jun/mirror-mirror

Ridic, G., Gleason, S. & Ridic, O. (2012). Comparisons of Health Care Systems in the United States, Germany and Canada. Materia Sociomedica, 24(2), 112-120.

Thomson et. al. (2013, November). International Profiles of Health Care Systems, 2013.
Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Fund%20Report/2013/Nov/1717_Thomson_intl_profiles_hlt_care_sys_2013_v2.pdf

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