Healthcare systems in Canada, France, and the United States possess some similarities and many differences in the ability of residents to access care, cost of services, and level of quality of these services. It is important to identify the different challenges that exist within these healthcare systems in order to develop strategies that will improve healthcare access and quality for residents of these countries. The different models that exist serve as a means of developing new approaches to healthcare that will support increased satisfaction with the healthcare that is offered within these countries. The following discussion will address the challenges of healthcare systems in two countries and evaluate their relevance with respect to the United States and its current model.
In Canada, the creation of a national system for healthcare, known as the National Health Insurance Model, was established by the government by using a single-payer system (Reid, 2010). This system is effective in keeping costs low, while also offering healthcare services to all residents; however, the disadvantage to this system is that there are significant delays in obtaining specific types of treatment or procedures (Reid, 2010). Since the government sponsors the healthcare system in Canada, the taxpayer pays the consequences through higher taxation (Reid, 2010). However, Canada’s life expectancy rate is higher and infant mortality rate is lower, and the standards established for care are very high (Reid, 2010). For the elderly or poor, a version of Medicare is available through the government to provide hospital and office visits, as well as prescription drugs to these groups (Reid, 2010). Nonetheless, medical technologies are lagging in Canada, with availability lower than in other countries, including the United States (Reid, 2010).
In France, all persons have health insurance coverage at a fairly equal level; therefore, most residents visit physicians more regularly on an annual basis than Americans (Reid, 2010). However, the system differs from the Canadian system because it is not sponsored by the government; rather, this system is privatized and easier to access (Reid, 2010). Therefore, health insurance is purchased through employers, which is similar to the United States (Reid, 2010). Another key advantage to the French system is that many networks of physicians and hospitals do not exist; in this scenario, all persons can choose whomever they like to obtain healthcare services (Reid, 2010). This is a significant opportunity for the people of France to develop relationships with their physicians and will not be turned away for insurance purposes (Reid, 2010). The people of France generally lead healthier and longer lives as a result of these services (Reid, 2010).
For the United States, there are significant factors to consider with the current healthcare system that make it perhaps the most challenging advanced healthcare system in the world. Access to healthcare is poor, out-of-pocket costs are high, choices are limited, and many of the components of the system are broken, including Medicare/Medicaid (Reid, 2010). In addition, the United States holds a 34 percent rate of obesity, poor health outcomes for a large segment of the population, and a high rate of spending per person (Reid, 2010). Unfortunately, this system also favors the rich and does not provide support to the poor, which leads to significant disparities in care and treatment for persons from all age groups (Reid, 2010). In addition, those who have health insurance are often required to pay back expensive bills for services that have not been covered by insurance (Hunt, 2013). Under these conditions, the United States healthcare system is broken and does not possess the framework that is required to ensure that access to these services is improved and expanded for all persons (Hunt, 2013).
In making recommendations to the United States to improve their healthcare system, examples such as Canada and France demonstrate specific characteristics of systems that have been successful over time. However, the United States faces significant resistance from insurance companies, government bodies, and even consumers regarding how healthcare services are managed. Therefore, it is not feasible to recommend a single system that the United States could emulate in its efforts to promote healthcare reform. In spite of the changes being considered with Obamacare, there is much resistance and strife regarding this system and its short and long-term impact on Americans. Similarly, proposing other reform measures may be difficult to accept because the United States is resistant to change on a large scale. Nonetheless, the adoption of a system where all persons have access to healthcare through their employers or otherwise, in addition to a system where individuals can choose doctors without a network requirement. In addition, the system should provide immediate access to care and treatment as needed without significant wait times. These changes would provide numerous benefits to Americans, regardless of their status, and would demonstrate that the United States is truly concerned about the health and wellbeing of their citizens. However, the country faces an uphill battle with the adoption of its new system, which is not likely to be effective in providing the desired level of care for all patients across all status groups. As a result, the poor will continue to struggle in this area, elderly residents will not receive care in a timely manner, and the mental health system will continue to be broken on many levels. The United States’ resistance to change will continue to have a negative impact on residents and the services that they require to achieve greater health and wellbeing. This resistance will lead to negative outcomes and limited change over time.
Hunt, A.R. (2013). U.S. Health care is even more broke than we thought. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-03/u-s-health-care-is-even-more-broken-than-we-thought.html
Reid, T.R. (2010). The healing of America: a global quest for better, cheaper, and fairer health care. The Penguin Press.