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Comparison to the United States

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The United States has a mixture of government-run and private insurance. The government pays most of the cost, but also subsidizes private health insurance through Obamacare. One-third of costs is for administration, not patient care. Health care service providers are private. Sixty percent of citizens get private insurance from their employers. Fifteen percent receive Medicare for those 65 and older. The federal government also funds Medicaid for low-income families and the Children's Health Insurance Program for children. It pays for veterans, Congress, and federal employees. Despite all these, there are 28 million Americans who have no coverage. They either are exempt from the Obamacare mandate or can't afford insurance. 

In 2016, health care cost 18 percent of GDP. That was a staggering US$9,892 per person. Exactly 18 percent of patients skipped prescriptions because of cost. But only 4.9 percent of patients reported a wait time of more than four weeks to see a specialist. In 2015, life expectancy was 79.3 years. The third leading cause of death was a medical error. The quality of care is low. It ranks 28th according to the United Nations. 

Why does the United States have such high costs and such low quality? Most patients don't pay for their medical services. As a result, they can't price-shop doctors and hospital procedures. There is no competitive reason for providers to offer lower costs. The government can negotiate lower prices for those covered by Medicare and Medicaid. But competing health insurance companies don't have the same leverage.

Insurance and drug companies want to maintain the status-quo. They don't want the government restricting prices. They lobby to prevent universal health care. But 60 percent of Americans want Medicare for all. California, Ohio, Colorado, Vermont, and New York are moving toward universal health care in their states. 


Universal Health Care Comparison Chart

Country Type % of GDP Per Capita Wait 4+ wks Infant Mortality Rate WHO Ranking
Australia 2-tier   9.6% $4,798 22% 3.1 32
Canada Single 10.6% $4,752 56.3% 4.3 30
France 2-tier 11.0% $4,600 49.3% 3.2  1
Germany Mandate 11.3% $5,550 11.9% 3.2 25
Singapore 2-tier   4.9% $2,000   2.2  6
Switzerland Mandate 12.4% $7,919 20.2% 3.6 20
United Kingdom Single   9.7% $4,193 29.9% 3.7 18
United States Private 18.0% $9,892  4.9% 5.6 37
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