Healthcare around the World

With all the talk about what's going on with healthcare in the United States, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that Americans aren't the only one who have to tackle the healthcare issue. Take a look at what citizens can expect from their doctors and hospitals in France, Britain, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

Healthcare in Europe

Most countries in Europe have universal healthcare, and in some cases it seems to be working. For example, the 62 million residents in France are healthier than those in the U.S., and their healthcare spending per capita is about half of the United States'. France uses a combination of private and public funding, just like the U.S., but unlike the U.S., every French citizen can access basic coverage through national funds (to which both employers and employees contribute). Many citizens – approximately 90% – also purchase supplementary coverage to make up for what national insurance doesn't cover. Of course, the French pay more in taxes, also. Britain also provides universal health coverage to residents, as well as prescription benefits. The British government has funneled quite a bit of money into its healthcare system the past few years, but nonetheless, treatment coverage is poor and people often end up waiting a long time to see doctors. As a result, Britain has the lowest five-year survival rates for cancer.

Healthcare in Australia

Australia also offers its citizens universal healthcare coverage through a Medicare program. It is a tax-funded, public system that provides coverage for most physician and hospital services, as well as prescription benefits. Almost everything is taken care of by the federal branch of the government, although state territories have to cough up funds for public hospital services. About 50% of Australians supplement this coverage with private insurance (which the government subsidizes) in order to pay for services like private hospitals and visits to the dentist. Australians with medical issues will usually go see a general practitioner first, who can then refer them to a specialist in private practice who operates on a fee-for-service system. About 67% of hospital space is public, with the rest going to serve the needs of private patients.

Healthcare in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a region that encompasses the countries Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. There has been a lot of pressure placed on the healthcare systems in these countries in the last few years because of an increasingly prosperous and educated class of people who demand better services. There is a combination of traditional healthcare practices alongside newer, more Western technologies and products. In countries like Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia healthcare has been largely privatized, which has led to distortions in both the distribution and production of workers in the industry. Many countries also have certain publicly funded programs, such as Medifund (Singapore), Health Equity Funds (Laos and Cambodia) and Health Fund for the Poor (Vietnam). The biggest issues facing many Asian countries in this region are the sustainability of publicly-funded, centralized systems; rising healthcare costs; the quality of services; and increased demand and expectation for services from residents.

Sources:

http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-06-13/is-europes-health-care-better-businessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Fellowships/Australian-American-Health-Policy-Fellowships/The-Health-Care-System-and-Health-Policy-in-Australia.aspx

http://unu.edu/publications/articles/health-and-healthcare-systems-in-southeast-asia.html

About the Author:
Iris Stone is a freelance writer, editor, and business owner who has written on a range of topics. She has experience covering content on medicine, healthcare, and career training, as well as education. Iris is also interested in science and mathematics and is currently studying to be a physicist. Check out her Google+ Profile.

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