Home » Comparing Healthcare Systems: UK vs. USA

Debate over these two ways of doing things will keep going, with stubborn defenders on both sides, but what are the differences between these two systems that causes such discussion?

Healthcare in the UK

In the UK, the healthcare system is set-up in such a way that every citizen has the right to free treatment. This is achieved through taxation, where anyone earning above a certain threshold is required to pay a fee on top of their tax

The system is called the NHS (National Health Service), and the tax citizens are required to pay comes under National Insurance. Each country in the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – has their own sub-section of the NHS, and so the overall health service is partitioned into four systems.

Healthcare in the US

The US has a much more complicated healthcare system, as unlike the UK, there is no one organisation that is responsible for citizen’s healthcare.

To pay for any healthcare, individuals need to either pay directly to their healthcare provider, buy insurance through either work or directly from an insurance company, or be eligible for social insurance such as Medicare.

The majority of citizens receive insurance through their work, which is about half the population. After this, about a third are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, which are government provided insurance programs for people over 65 and low income families, respectively. A relatively small number pay directly to an insurance provider, rather than through work, but, and lastly, between 47 and 60 million people have no insurance at all.

Comparing both systems

Both ways of doing things with regards to a country’s healthcare have their good and bad points, and determining which is best is not a simple task.

The US has some of the best healthcare in the world, with often the latest technology on offer and most effective treatments, but the drawbacks of this way of doing things are stark; between 47 and 60 million people live their lives without the safety net of healthcare insurance in the US.

In contrast, every legal citizen in the UK is able to receive healthcare for free. However, this spread of money may be wide ranging, but it is very thin; there are often cases where controversy has arisen over who should receive certain treatments, and therefore take money out of the nation’s pocket.

So, the UK system has the country’s overall welfare in mind, whilst the US system is more fragmented and business oriented.