Every country has a different approach to healthcare and the medical system for prevention and cure. While each model is distinct in and of itself, most countries don’t adhere strictly to a single model; rather, most create their own hybrids that involve features of several.
Many countries have a single-payer healthcare that is universal and funded by the government. The government removes all competition in the market to keep costs low and standardise benefits. The national health service controls what “in-network” providers can do and what they can charge. Funded by taxes, there are no out-of-pocket fees for patients or any cost-sharing. This system is used by the UK, Russia, the UAE, Spain, Hong Kong and other countries.
Another healthcare system option is where employers and employees are responsible for funding their health insurance system through “sickness funds” created by payroll deductions. Providers and hospitals are generally private, though insurers are public. In some instances, there is a single insurer (France, Korea). Other countries, like Germany and the Czech Republic, have multiple competing insurers. It is also used some employer-based healthcare plans in the U.S.
A third popular option is the national health insurance model is driven by private providers, but the payments come from a government-run insurance program that every citizen pays into. Essentially, the national health insurance model is universal insurance that doesn’t make a profit or deny claims. In this case, some citizens have private health insurance, some may receive subsidised public healthcare, while some are not insured at all. It is used in China and Japan among others.
The out-of-pocket model is the most common model in less-developed areas and countries where there aren’t enough financial resources to create a medical system like the three models above. In this model, patients must pay for their procedures out of pocket. It is used by Congo, Ethiopia and many other countries around the world.
Healthcare will continue to be a major concern when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. After all, there is a need to have a meaningful conversation on necessary reforms that involves providers, systems, payers, and the government. That conversation should include a thorough examination of the strengths and weaknesses of these global models so they can implement new healthcare policies and ultimately build a model that can work for everyone.