US Healthcare System vs. UK Healthcare System


USHealthcare System vs. UK Healthcare System

UsHealthcare System vs. UK Healthcare System

Theimportance of healthcare cannot be gainsaid as far as the strengthand welfare of any economy is concerned. Indeed, healthcare has abearing on the economic wellbeing of individuals in a particularcountry especially considering that only people who are healthy inall aspects including physical, emotional, psychological andemotional, have the ability to take part in economic activities. Itcomes as no surprise, therefore, that countries dedicate quite alarge proportion of their economic resources to the healthcaresector. For instance, the United States total health expenditure asat 2012 was $2.8 trillion, which is quite a substantial chunk (17.9%)of the national budget. However, there are variations in thestructures that are put in place to allow for proper dispensation ofhealthcare services. Indeed, every country puts in place structuresthat best suit it and allow for the maximization or optimization ofthe utility of healthcare services to its people. Two healthcaresystems that are distinctively different are the United States systemand that of the United Kingdom. While there are quite a number ofsimilarities between the two systems, the variations between themallow for quite considerable differences in their efficiency,efficacy and utility both in the short-term and long-term.

Oneof the key differences between the two systems revolves around thefinanciers. In the United States, the healthcare systems areprimarily delivered by private sector providers. Scholars andresearchers have acknowledged that healthcare institutions are ownedby either charitable and non-profit organizations or profitcompanies. This means that Americans are required to spend thousandsof dollars every year on health insurance policies that allow theirusers to access speedy treatment using considerably advancedtechnologies as they are market driven (Taylor&ampHawley, 2010).This is quite different from the United Kingdom healthcare systemwhich is government-run and seen as the right of citizens in whichcase it is free at the point of access. The UK healthcare system ispaid for through the NHS (National Health Service). This is amarket-minimized (socialized) national health service model made upof several subsystems that are broken down by the countries involvedto “trusts” and local organizations. The fully comprehensivesystem incorporates healthcare staff, facilities, pharmaceuticals,technology, coverage, delivery and financing.

Onthe same note, the variations in the providers of healthcare causesdifferences in the focus of the healthcare systems in the twocountries. The United Kingdom healthcare system has been rankedhigher than that of the United States on the basis of its financialfairness. This has been seen as direct result of the healthcaresystem’s mode of financing. Since the healthcare system in theUnited Kingdom is primarily funded by the government, it means thatquite less amount of funds are dedicated to the healthcare (Taylor&ampHawley, 2010).This has caused a complete variation in the focus of the healthcareproviders or finances. Indeed, scholars have noted that the UnitedKingdom healthcare system is primarily focused on preventativemedicine in an effort to sustain the health of its population so asto reduce the need for the considerably more costly treatment later.This has been based on the acknowledgement of the relatively low costof preventative medicine compared to treatment (Roland, 2004).However, the focus of the United States healthcare system is entirelydifferent with the primary focus being on treatment. It is well notedthat the private sector based healthcare has its main focus on profitmaximization in the course of provision of health services. As muchas preventative medicine would bring some profit to suchorganizations, the profits are considerably lower than would be thecase for treatment medicine (Goodwin,2006).In essence, the primary focus of the healthcare sector is ontreatment rather than preventative medicine.

Similarly,there are distinctive variations in the health outcomes pertaining tothe two systems. Researchers and scholars agree that the variationsin the healthcare outcomes of the United Kingdom’s healthcaresystem are considerably lower than those of the United Stateshealthcare system. This has been attributed to the differences in theaccessibility to the healthcare services in the two countries(Roland, 2004). In the case of the United Kingdom, healthcare is seenas a fundamental and inalienable right of the citizens, in which caseevery person irrespective of his or her social and economic class hasaccess to it. This, however, is not the case in the United Stateshealthcare system as the economic capacity of an individualdetermines the quality of care that he or she receives (Feachem etal, 2002). In essence, there are quite distinctive variations in thehealthcare outcomes of its healthcare systems in line with thedifferences in economic wellbeing of individuals. It has well beennoted that only about 56% of individuals have the capacity to pay fortheir healthcare needs or at least take up some private insurance forthe same. Indeed, about 26% are seen as entirely incapable of payingfor their healthcare or even insurance policies, in which case theyare wholly dependent on handouts and welfare from well-wishers(Feachem et al, 2002). This means that there are individuals who haveextremely positive and desirable healthcare outcomes while others arein an extremely undesirable position as they cannot afford qualityhealthcare. Similarly, the healthcare providers in the United Kingdomare not required to crosscheck the capacity of patients to pay ortheir insurance details as not credit card details or finances areexchanged (Blendon et al, 2002). This has been seen as speeding upthe dispensation of healthcare services as little time is dedicatedto administrative work thereby allowing the healthcare providers tofocus on the patients’ clinical problems. Further, this has beenseen as reducing the cost of healthcare provision as feweradministrative staff would be required compared to the United States(Goodwin,2006).Healthcare institutions do not need to obtain clearance from thirdparties prior to prescribing medications or organizing diagnosis orinvestigations.

Onthe same note, the two healthcare systems are considerably differentin terms of their responsiveness. Research has shown that the UnitedStates health care system is ranking quite high as far asresponsiveness is concerned as compared to that of the United Kingdom(Blendon et al, 2002). This is primarily as a result of thedifferences in the level of financial constraints between the twocountries, where the United States is far less constrained than itsUnited Kingdom counterparts. It is well noted that in the UnitedStates, the private providers are persistently competing for a largermarket share and dominance than their competitors, in which case theyhave to enhance the quality of their services and speed of responseso as to increase their profits (Rosenthal et al, 2004).

Lastly,there are variations between the two systems with regards to thelevels of bureaucracy. It has well been noted that the United KingdomHealthcare system is considerably more bureaucratic than that of theUnited States (Rosenthal et al, 2004). Indeed, decisions pertainingto the smallest of details pertaining to healthcare have to be madeat the government levels, unlike the case of United States whereprice is the key determinant of almost all issues pertaining tohealthcare. This makes the United Kingdom healthcare systemconsiderably less efficient and more rigid than that of the UnitedStates (Hussey et al, 2004). Indeed, researchers have seen this asdisadvantageous as some of these decisions are made by administratorswho have absolutely no clue or background on healthcare matters.

Inconclusion, the importance of healthcare cannot be gainsaid as far asthe strength and welfare of any economy is concerned. Indeed,healthcare has a bearing on the economic wellbeing of individuals ina particular country especially considering that only people who arehealthy in all aspects including physical, emotional, psychologicaland emotional, have the ability to take part in economic activities.Nevertheless, every country puts in place structures that best suitit and allow for the maximization or optimization of the utility ofhealthcare services to its people. The differences between the UnitedStates and United Kingdom healthcare systems are primarily pegged onthe providers of the services, where the later exclusively involvesthe NHS while the former involves a combination of government andprivate sector collaboration. This introduces variations in outcomes,efficiency, responsiveness, focus, and even level of bureaucracy.Nevertheless, the two systems still have the same goal which is toenable well-trained and well intentioned professionals and healthcareinstitutions to offer and their consumers to access evidence-basedservices in an effective and efficient manner despite the financialconstraints.


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