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Summary of Seven Countries' Universal Health Plans 1

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Australia: Australia adopted a two-tier system. The government pays two-thirds, and the private sector pays one-third. The public universal system is called Medicare. Everyone receives coverage. That includes visiting students, people seeking asylum, and those with temporary visas. People must pay deductibles before government payments kick in. Half of the residents have paid for private health insurance to receive a higher quality of care. Those who buy private insurance before they reach 30 receive a lifetime discount. Government regulations protect seniors, the poor, children, and rural residents.

In 2016, health care cost 9.6 percent of Australia's gross domestic product. The per capita cost was US$4,798. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development disclosed that 22.4 percent of patients reported a wait time of more than four weeks to see a specialist. On the other hand, only 7.8 percent of patients skipped medications because the cost was too high. In 2015, the Australian life expectancy was 84.5 years.

Canada: Canada has a single-payer system. The government pays for services provided by a private delivery system. The government pays for 70 percent of care. Private supplemental insurance pays for vision, dental care, and prescription drugs. Hospitals are publicly funded. They provide free care to all residents regardless of the ability to pay. The government keeps hospitals on a fixed budget to control costs. It reimburses doctors at a fee-for-service rate. It negotiates bulk prices for prescription medicine. 

In 2016, health care cost 10.6 percent of Canada’s GDP. The cost per person was US$4,752, and 10.5 percent of patients skipped prescriptions because of cost. A whopping 56.3 percent of patients waited more than four weeks to see a specialist. As a result, many patients who can afford it go to the United States for care. In 2015, the life expectancy was 82.2 years. Canada has high survival rates for cancer and low hospital admission rates for asthma and diabetes. 

France: France has an excellent two-tier system. Its mandatory health insurance system covers 75 percent of health care spending. That includes hospitals, doctors, drugs, and mental health. Doctors are paid less than in other countries, but their education and insurance is free. The French government also pays for homeopathy, house calls, and child care. Of that, payroll taxes fund 40 percent, income taxes cover 30 percent, and the rest is from tobacco and alcohol taxes. For-profit corporations own one-third of hospitals. Patients give care consistent high ratings. 

In 2016, health care cost 11 percent of GDP. That was US$4,600 per person. In 2013, 49.3 percent of patients reported a wait time of more than four weeks to see a specialist. But only 7.8 percent of patients skipped prescriptions because of cost. In 2015, the life expectancy was 85.5 years.

Germany: Germany has mandatory health insurance sold by 130 private nonprofits. It covers hospitalization, outpatient, prescription drugs, mental health, eye care, and hospice. There are copays for hospitalization, prescriptions, and medical aids. There is additional mandatory long-term care insurance. Funding comes from payroll taxes. The government pays for most of the health care. It limits the amount of the payments and the number of people each doctor can treat. People can buy more coverage.

In 2016, health care cost 11.3 percent of GDP. That averaged US$5,550 per person. Only 3.2 percent of patients skipped prescriptions because of cost. Also, 11.9 percent of patients reported a wait time of more than four weeks to see a specialist. But most Germans can get next-day or same-day appointments with general practitioners. In 2015, the life expectancy was 83.1 years.

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