With the continuous rise in health care costs around the world, each country has been looking into their current health care system’s efficiency and value for money to promote the welfare and well-being of a greater population and achieve better health outcomes. In fact, many people consider US and Canada’s health care systems as those that would top the list. However, considering several aspects of a good health care system such as quality, accessibility, efficiency, equity and scores on three indicators of healthy lives, the Commonwealth Fund came up with a report that includes an overall ranking of countries which exhibit relatively good performance on all dimensions.
With $3,405 health expenditures per capita in 2011, UK tops the overall ranking for countries with the best health care system. Generally, upfront payments in the UK are not required. Aside from this, fees for GP consultation, ambulance and most major surgeries are free. However, despite all these health benefits, UK underperforms and ranked 10th on achieving healthy lives.
In Switzerland, obtaining health insurance, which costs CHF 700 (USD 725) per year for adult and CHF 350 (USD 360) per year for children, is required for those who will stay in the country beyond three months. On the other hand GP fee in Switzerland typically costs CHF 100 (USD 105).
Unlike UK, Sweden requires upfront payments from individuals seeking medical care. They have to pay for their medical expenses but there is a certain limit of up to how much a person pays within a 12-month period. For example, in a particular region in Sweden, a person should only pay a maximum of 900 Swedish Krona (USD110) for medical expenses and 2200 Swedish Krona (USD 270) for prescription drugs in a year and everything will be free after that.
In Australia, upfront payments are also required, which includes GP fee ranging from $50 to $80. However, most prescription drugs are subsidized by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) while treatment in public hospitals is completely covered by Medicare.
Generally, Germany does not require upfront payments and since 2013, patients are no longer required to pay the GP consultation fee. However, about 85% of the population in Germany obtains insurance from the country’s non-profit Krankenkassen or “sickness funds” and those who earn more than €4,350 (USD 5000) may opt to obtain insurance from private companies.
Compared to Switzerland, Netherlands does not require health insurance for individuals below 18 years old and for temporary visitors who will stay in the country for a less than a year. Obtaining health insurance typically costs 7.75% of a person’s salary or 5.65 % of one’s income, if self-employed.
In New Zealand, GP fee typically costs $50 from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm which increases on weekends and night but is waived for children. Furthermore, if the person is a member of Primary Health Organization (PHO), he only has to pay $25 – $30 for GP consultation and $3/item for prescription drugs.
The health care system in Norway is based on the principles of universal access, decentralization and free choice of provider. A person seeking professional care from a GP typically pays NOK 140 (USD 17) during the day and NOK 235 (USD 28) during the night. On the other hand, if he opts to consult a specialist, he has to pay NOK 315 (USD 39). Aside from this, drugs for chronic conditions are given on a blue prescription and are typically charged less.
France requires upfront payments which are then reimbursed in partial or in full. However, starting November 2017, all upfront payments will be waived. In addition, all transactions in France are done through a smart card called Carte Vitale. The card is swiped to pay for all health expenses and will be reimbursed to the payor’s bank account within five banking days.
Canada’s current health care system offers insurance plans that can cover the different health needs of its citizens. Private insurance companies offer a wide range of benefits that provincial health insurance cannot provide. These include, but not limited to, dental services, optometrists and prescription drugs. With its existing health care system, Canada possesses one of the highest life expectancies and lowest infant mortality rates.