IntroductionGuatemala is the Central American country selected for this essay. It is located in the heart of Central America and borders Mexico to the north, Belize to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the south. It also borders the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to the north. According to Purnell & Paulanka (2005), the country is also referred to as eternal spring and has an estimated population of more than fourteen million people. The current paper compares and contrasts the healthcare delivery systems of Guatemala and the US.
Government Involvement in Healthcare Delivery
The manner in which the governments of the two countries get involved in healthcare delivery is similar in various ways. It also has differences. Some of the ways in which the involvements are similar are discussed below.
In the United States, the Federal government and the local governments participate in the delivery of healthcare in many ways. According to Baker (2002), the government acts as the funding agent, insurer, researcher, motivator, educator, monitor, regulator, and advisor of the healthcare delivery system in the United States. It also acts as a partner in the healthcare delivery system where it works together with many healthcare organizations within and without the country to carry out the missions of the public health system. The public health system plays two significant roles that are to ensure the health of all citizens and to make services available to groups that appear to be at increased risks of poor health. For instance, the government partners with the Illinois Department of Human Services to provide some direct services such as mental health services and state operated development centers.
The government of Guatemala also gets participates in the healthcare delivery system in various ways. Its constitution recognizes the enjoyment of health as a basic right that should be safeguarded by the state through the government. To this effect, the government has a health authority, the Ministerio de Salud Publica y Asistencia Social (MSPAS), through which it undertakes to safeguard the health of its citizens based on various principles such as equity, solidarity, and subsidies (USAID, 2007). The authority also coordinates with various governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders on matters about the health of the country’s population. It has various institutions through which it implements actions of prevention, promotion, recovery, and rehabilitation. The authority is also responsible for reviewing the national health policies every four years as a way of steering the country’s general health policy.
Insurance and Service Delivery Mechanisms
Various insurance and service delivery mechanisms exist in both countries. There are various similarities and differences between the insurance coverage and service delivery models of the two nations. For instance, In the US, the various ways through which patients are insured include through their employers, a government healthcare program, and privately funded insurance. There is yet another category of patients who are not insured at all, and which accounts for approximately 15% of the country’s population. Similarly, in Guatemala, the health insurance function is fulfilled by both the private insurers and social security (USAID). However, the function is poorly developed and only covers less than 25% of the country’s population.
Concerning the service delivery mechanisms, service delivery models in the US are heavily reliant on the insurance coverage. As such, healthcare services are often only available to patients with health insurance that provide adequate coverage or those with the financial ability to pay for care services out of their own pockets. Similarly, in Guatemala, the delivery of services is highly related to insurance coverage. For instance, the private insurers are linked to a network of private health services providers across the country and provide the people with the ability to pay the often high premiums with personalized care (USAID). Affiliation to the social security system occurs through registration by companies, public institutions, employees, and beneficiaries.
Accessibility to Healthcare Services
Accessibility to healthcare services and their delivery is, however, the most significant different between the healthcare systems of the two countries. In the US, services are readily and easily available through various healthcare facilities run by the federal, state, and local governments and other private facilities. The reimbursement policy mostly used in the country’s healthcare system ensures that patients, especially those with adequate insurance cover can visit any facilities of their choice and access care. Additionally, the system has loopholes that allow even the uninsured patients to obtain care for acute illnesses in emergency departments of hospitals, even without having the ability to pay. However, in Guatemala, healthcare services are not as easily and readily available as they are in the US. There are no as many healthcare facilities as there are in the US. Additionally, a vast portion of the country’s population is uninsured or has inadequate coverage to access care from the private providers. As such, the ministry of health is responsible for the healthcare of very many people in the public sector. It operates two models of basic service delivery, which are a network of posts and centers located in remote areas and an ambulatory service model that extends service delivery to underserved areas (Fort et al.). Patients who need higher-level care are referred to well-equipped health centers and hospitals, also run by the ministry of health.
The healthcare delivery systems of the US and Guatemala are similar in various ways. The governments of the two countries are widely involved in the delivery system through activities such as funding, controlling, and the provision of certain services. There are also various similarities in the insurance and service delivery mechanisms in the healthcare systems of the two countries. However, the two systems differ significantly in matters of accessibility of the services, which are more accessible in the US than in Guatemala.

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  • Baker, Linda Reneé.  The Government’s Role in Health Care Delivery. 1st ed. 2002. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
  • Fort, Meredith P. et al.  Implementation and Progress of an Inclusive Primary Health Care Model in Guatemala: Coverage, Quality, and Utilization. 1st ed. Panam Salud Publica, 2011. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
  • Purnell, Larry D, and Betty J Paulanka.  Guide to Culturally Competent Health Care. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Co., 2005. Print.
  • USAID,.  Health Systems Profile Guatemala Monitoring and Analysis Health Systems Change/Reform. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C: Pan American Health Organization, 2007. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.