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Comparison of Health Care Systems: The United States and Iceland

Free «Comparison of Health Care Systems: The United States and Iceland» Essay Sample


Many scholars believe that the current health care system in the United States is inefficient, and an overhaul is necessary. Therefore, it is appropriate to compare and contrast the systems in Iceland and the U.S. to get a better understanding of the required changes to improve the situation.

Health Statistics and Costs

The discussion below will specify the differences in health care spending between the U.S. and Iceland. Statistics provided include life expectancy, major health issues, and mortality rates in the countries.

The United States. Females are expected to live 81.2 years, and the number is 76.4 for males. The mortality rate is 821.5 per every hundred thousand of individuals. Cancer, heart conditions, and respiratory issues are the most widespread diseases. $8.713 is the healthcare cost per capita. The government has spent at least 17.1 percents of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). The high numbers are rather shocking.

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Iceland. On the other hand, the duration of female lives in Iceland is close to 84.3, and the figure is 81.6 for males. In 2013, the mortality rate for women was 38.88 per every thousand citizens, and 67.49 for men. Cancer and cardiovascular problems are the most significant health threats. $3.536 is the health cost per capita. About 9.0 percent of GDP is spent to support healthcare (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2014). It is clear that Iceland outperforms the U.S. in every area of healthcare.

Comparison of countries. The difference in the efficiency of the two systems is enormous. Iceland manages to achieve better results with lower spending.

Health Care Financing

One may view all the necessary information regarding fund collection in the discussion below. The role of a healthcare reform is also worthy of a discussion.

The United States. Employed individuals are covered by the private sector. The government insures citizens that have no ability to work or cannot afford expensive plans with a use of public money (Chua, 2006). The government supports such programs as Medicaid via taxation, and it accounts for 39% of all the funds. Businesses pay 33% of the insurance. Third party initiatives, investments, and personal spending make up 28 % (Shay & Schumacher, 2014). The health reform introduced in 2010 has expanded the health coverage to include about thirty-two million people that were previously uninsured (Jackson & Nolen, 2010). The approach is quite complicated because it involves many parties; thus, regulatory issues may occur.

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Iceland. Every individual that lives on the territory of Iceland for at least six months may receive free insurance. Individuals that have financial limitations are eligible to receive subsidies and other services. Public sector covers 80.4 percents of all the expenses. Additionally, the role of private sector is rather small, and individuals have to pay for some of the services themselves (Sigurgeirsdottir, Waagfjord, & Maresso, 2014). The biggest advantage is that all citizens have insurance, and do not have to deal with medical difficulties present in other countries.

Comparison of countries. The system in the U.S. focuses on insurance companies. On the other hand, the government of Iceland believes that free healthcare is a human right, and utilizes service fees to generate additional resources to provide free healthcare.

Health Care Administration

Core government agencies focused on the regulation of healthcare will be mentioned in the discussion below. Available information on administration is worth highlighting.

The United States. The number of agencies in the U.S. is enormous. For instance, National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends funds on research and consists of twenty divisions. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focuses on the aspects related to health products and their quality, and its mission is to ensure safety and well-being of the population.

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Iceland. Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Security is the agency that regulates operations related to healthcare in the country. Its primary mission is to ensure that every citizen has equal access to necessary services. Smaller departments monitor drug pricing, ethics, and treatment of individuals that have to deal with health impairments.

Comparison of countries. The approach utilized in Iceland is more efficient because one government organization is responsible for several functions. The U.S. needs to revise current system because it complicates the provision of health services.

Human Resources

The information about healthcare employees is available in the discussion below. The figures will be compared to acquire a better understanding of the situation.

The United States. 58 nurse practitioners are available per every hundred thousand of citizens. 908.508 physicians are currently active in the U.S., and the total number of staffed beds is 902.202 (Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 2016). The figures are rather high, but many people still have trouble getting access to health services.

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Iceland. Close to 1.52 nurses and 0.36 physicians are currently available per 100.000 of individuals. Only 0.33 hospital beds are available for the same number of people. The figures are relatively small compared to the U.S., but they are average global statistics (OECD, 2014).

Comparison of countries. It is clear that the level of efficiency is higher in Iceland that in the U.S. Moreover, the overall quality and effectiveness of services are better.

Conclusion: Access and Equity Issues

In the U.S., the number of individuals that are currently uninsured is close to 37.5 million (CDC, 2016). Some minority groups in the U.S. have to deal with significant barriers when receiving healthcare. Such aspects as the level of income and language barriers are extremely problematic. Whites receive better services than blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. Additionally, the Caucasian group of people does not have service access problems (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2011). On the contrary, the population in Iceland does not suffer from the same issues because almost 100% citizens are insured and institutions provide services equally to all.

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