Sunday, 11 September 2011

Comparing Health Care Systems

A friend of mine worked for a news agency in Korea. And a team of this agency is right now in Europe to research health care systems. So I agreed to talk to them. Now my research in the past 3 years gave me an in-depth insight into the UK system. However, my main focus was on how to improve the process by which services are designed. We talked a bit about the UK system but inevitably the Korean journalists were interested where I see the differences between the UK and the German health care system and which one performs better.

Very interesting question - and a rather tough one. While I lived in Germany I was in full-time education and insured with my parents, so my knowledge is restricted to what I picked up over the years from the news, conversations etc. I was quite sure that someone must have done that type of research and indeed I just stumbled upon a report from the independent Commonwealth Fund which compares the systems of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

Summary of the summary: The Netherlands come first overall, followed by the UK in 2nd place. Germany comes 4th and the US last. Furthermore, the US are also last in 5 out of 6 dimensions. The one dimension where the US only are 2nd to last is Quality Care, here the Canadians are trailing the pack. Not all is bad though, the US are leading in preventive medicine and are strong when it comes to waiting times for more specialized care.

page v of "Mirror Mirror on the Wall" by the Commonwealth Fund

Also interesting that the two nations with the highest per capita health spending (US $7,290 and Canada $3,895) are last and second to last, respectively. The other countries spend between $2,454 (NZ) and $3,837 (Netherlands), whereby the UK, which overall ranked 2nd, had the 2nd lowest expenditure at $2,992.

The full report can be found here. Happy reading :)

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