While every country has a system in place of providing care for sick individuals there are extreme differences between how these systems manifest. For example, in Great Britain, healthcare is provided from governmental bodies. In turn, taxes are collected and specifically allotted to ensure that people receive the healthcare they need without paying exorbitant costs for insurance plans or, in some cases for individual procedures and services. While there are private options in place for people who wish to extend their healthcare beyond what the government provides, these plans are often costly and unnecessary for those who do not have complicated medical problems. In fact, the traditional system of healthcare is enough for over 90% of the population who do not choose to utilize any privatized insurance at all. In the context of this system, the government is also able to house a greater level of control on the costs of medical devices and advances. For example, no citizen pays more than $12 for prescriptions in Great Britain (National Center for Health Statistics, 2015). This is, of course, not handled the same way as it is in counties such as the United States where the majority of people receive healthcare through their workplace via a private company as opposed to via the government. Prescriptions in the United States can often cost upwards of hundreds of dollars even for those needed daily or those that are considered life saving. That is not to mention costly procedures and hospital visits that are not always covered by particular branches of private insurance.

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While the healthcare system in the United States may not negatively affect people who are overall healthy with jobs that provide affordable access to healthcare, there are certain people in any population that deserve extra consideration when it comes to the issues of healthcare. For example, the United States has specific programs in place for young people, elderly people and those who cannot work due to unemployment. For example, young children are protected under the Medicaid system, a separate governmental branch of insurance that protect healthcare rights for young children. Medicaid allows young people to receive a range of services despite their parents socioeconomic or job status. Similarly elderly people who are retired or people with a disability, who are not able to work for a living can receive benefits in the United States through Medicare. This answers some of the problems of lacking insurance coverage in the U.S., the programs are still state specific, as the federal government doles out specific allowances to each state to manage their own program accordingly (Anderson, 1992). This also leads to disparities between the healthcare received by each state some, for example covering a larger percentage of durable medical equipment, others supporting preventive healthcare visits, and still others covering surgical procedures to a greater extent. Unfortunately this system leaves children and elderly people at the whim of the state they live on to determine in part how effective their healthcare coverage is. One staple consideration among states is that people who are married have different healthcare rights than those who are single. Married individuals can receive a variety of tax benefits including the ability to name one another for services in healthcare obtained from one spouse’s employment. This need not be a consideration in socialized medicine where everyone already receives care through the government.

This is in stark contrast to the British healthcare system in which an elderly person has the same access to treatment as a newborn. That is not to say that every single type of treatment is as effective as any other. Great Britain has often been criticized for its long wait lines, perhaps a consequence of the simple number of people the system is able to accommodate. Similarly, in the British system patients must first funnel through general practitioners and be sent to a specialist covered in their national system which, are the majority of center. In the United States the process may or may not be similar. For those people with an HMO plan, any specialist visit will require a script or referral to said specialist from a general physician. Individuals who opt for a PPO plan can often see a specialist without this added step. Finally, those people with pre-existing medical conditions in Great Britain will be covered as usual. In the United States, those people suffering from an illness or condition who did not have insurance used to suffer high penalties to enroll in health insurance, if a company would take them on at all. With the advent of Obamacare, this rule is no longer legal. Anyone who wants healthcare through Obamacare can receive it even if they have a preexisting condition.

Even though the United States may not have the most widely effective mechanism for healthcare, there are specific areas in which the country as a whole thrives. Cancer research is one area that has received an immense amount of new innovation in recent years (Rahib, Smith, Aizenberg, Rosenzweig, Fleshman & Matrisian, 2014). While known to be particularly astute in the United States compared to many other developed countries cancer treatment still has a standard in place in Great Britain. There are positive and negative aspects of universal healthcare just like any other. The most important thing is to remain considerate of other cultures so we can learn from one another about the best ways to promote health and longevity with the lowest costs and highest effectiveness possible.

  • Anderson, O. W. (1992). Health care: can there be equity? The United States, Sweden, and England. Health care: can there be equity? The United States, Sweden, and England. Retrieved from: http://www.cabdirect.org/
  • National Center for Health Statistics (US. (2015). Health, United States, 2014: With special feature on adults aged 55–64. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26086064
  • Rahib, L., Smith, B. D., Aizenberg, R., Rosenzweig, A. B., Fleshman, J. M., & Matrisian, L. M. (2014). Projecting cancer incidence and deaths to 2030: the unexpected burden of thyroid, liver, and pancreas cancers in the United States. Cancer research, 74(11), 2913-2921.