Beyond Borders: Diving into US and UK Healthcare Systems

Published August 20, 2023

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) health statistics 2021; the United States is spending 17% of its GDP on health which is by far the highest expenditure in the world while the percentage for the United Kingdom is nearly 10%. OECD estimates that the US is spending twice the average per capita on health in comparison to other high-income G7 countries. Even though US health expenditure is at the top still the states ranked 11 out of 11, as the report published by Commonwealth for 11 developed countries based on data till 2019 while, the UK occupied 4th position in this category.

Rendering to the Gallup polling in 2021 more than half of Americans were not satisfied with the quality of healthcare Likewise, King’s Fund predicted a major drop in the satisfaction level of UK National Health Services (NHS). These unpleasant results were reported for the first time in the last two decades. The major reason that affected the good statistics of the UK and the US was the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in inadequate infrastructure, incredulous emergency departments, shortage of staff and beds in the hospitals. The satisfaction rates in 2019 Gallup and King’s Fund poling were 52% and 60% respectively.

Generally, The US health care system relies on diverse private/public approaches. Primarily there are four different methods to attain healthcare in the United States.

i. Government Financing: It includes programs like Medicaid and Medicare which are fully funded by the government.

ii. Out of Pocket Payment: where the Patient buys health services in cash.

iii. Company-based Insurance: where the payment is wholly or partially paid by the employer with lower prices as compared to the market price

iv. Private Insurance: where the patient pays the insurance company and in return they provide health services when needed.

The healthcare system of the UK is known as National Health Services (NHS) which is a tax-based government-supported system operated by the contribution of taxpayers. Every citizen pays about 18% healthcare tax which is estimated to be 4.5% of the average citizen’s income. NHS provides quality services to every resident irrespective of their earnings. Conversely, there is also a well-established private health care system and insurance for those who can afford it and utilize urgent services by avoiding long waiting processes.

No health care system can be perfect, Pros and cons are associated with both US and UK health care systems. Major Advantages of the US healthcare system are; Quality healthcare services where highly qualified Physicians and more sophisticated tools are available in the hospitals, patients can avail of tele-medicines and virtual hospital services, patients can get complete aid for addiction from Elysium healthcare center, best mental health treatment and home care services, minimum waiting time even for complicated procedures and major surgeries, based on patient interests various medical care options are available and top-class facilities are available to achieve perfect treatment. Some of the disadvantages of the US healthcare system are; expensive healthcare services especially for patients who do not have insurance, restricted insurance courage which means if someone loses their job they will lose their insurance coverage as well, lack of transparency and No preventive care is provided by the doctors especially in follow up cases.

Advantages of NHS include improve public health where anyone can get basic health facilities without any restrictions, widespread and accessible health services throughout the country, no discrimination in providing health services on any basis, a generous system with the least paperwork, documentation, promoting human rights in providing equal and free health services. Some of the drawbacks of NHS are; time taking process, lack of diversity and multiple options in choosing physicians and treatment according to their own will, long waiting times for checkups and follow up, low wages for nurses and doctors and bureaucratic barriers.

Some other disadvantages which need to be fixed are public policy, spending social and economic conditions, social and environmental factors, individual behaviors, healthcare costs and access. Simple solutions to overcome the shortcomings are; learning more about your stakeholders, fostering a culture of stewardship, developing strategic cross-sector partnerships and measuring performance using meaningful indicators of community health and well-being

In conclusion, the US and UK health care systems each bring particular benefits and challenges while being examples of publically funded, multi-payer systems. By offering services to everyone, the UK’s health care system demonstrates its conviction that access to health care is a human right. The US healthcare system, in comparison, highlights how challenging it is to strike a balance between commercial interests and the requirement for universal access to healthcare. Understanding these variations is essential for gaining an understanding of the ongoing mission to offer high-quality, easily accessible, and cost-effective healthcare.

The economy and health are intricately intertwined. If either is to be powerful, both must prosper. Leaders around the nation must act as engaged stewards to transform the status quo. They must create new alliances with stakeholders and change-makers to enhance community health and increase economic opportunity for all.

About the Author:

Nidhi Sree Perla is a senior student at Academy At The Lakes. The viewpoints expressed in this article stem from her personal experiences with both the UK and US medical systems. She welcomes discussions or feedback and can be contacted at

Address: 2331 Collier Pkwy, Land O’ Lakes, FL 34639, USA

Phone: 813-948-7600

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