Comparative Analysis between US and UK Health Care


Health care systems comprise all organizations that focus on providing solutions to medical seekers. These include insurance companies, medical facilities and practitioners such as nurses and doctors. Health care addresses all health problems with the aim of finding a solution at affordable rates and the systems put in place ensure that these services reach the majority.

It was during the Second World War that the need to provide better access to health care was realized. Despite the similarity in the circumstances that led to the need of better health care, the two countries took different paths in establishing their systems. The United Kingdom solved the problem by introducing universal health care (McClintock and Liberman 209) while the United States gave a chance to private institutions to take on the same role. The difference appears through the mode of settling the medical bills. Universal health care is considered free of charge as the government pays for medical attention through the collection of taxes.

Pricing and Insurance Coverage

Health Insurance is insurance against the risk of incurring medical expenses among individuals. Different countries take up diverse systems to ensure medical care for all their nationals. The same is the case for the United Kingdom and the United States’, policies of which are very different from each other. Insurance covers enable an individual to access services even when they have not fully paid for the services they seek.

The US medical system is dominated by the private sector. The government does not offer any health plan; therefore, individuals are responsible for their own cover. They can decide to take a cover individually or as a group either at the workplace or at social groups. Popular insurance companies include Blue Cross, Blue Shield Association, Cigna and United Healthcare (McClintock and Liberman 201). Covers vary from premiums, inpatient, and outpatient to many more depending on the amount of money an individual is willing to pay. In situations where there is a pre-existing medical condition, cost of insurance usually goes high as there is certainty that insurance will be used. This has made health insurance very costly in the United States.

For low-income earners who cannot afford their own medical insurance, there is the option of public clinics. These clinics are run by not for profit organizations that make medical care more affordable and accessible to a few of the regions, as they are not many. However, these organizations are not governed, which is an aspect that poses a threat to the users by offering poor quality subsidized drugs. They are also not situated everywhere and can be far from a sick patient in need of urgent care. Also, due to cost efficiency, they do not offer services that require surgery and expensive treatment, meaning that low income earners do not have access to full medical care.

The US health care system is efficient because it saves the time during which a patient waits to see a doctor. This means that individuals can access their doctors urgently saving time, which is vital in critical situations. The system ensures a close relationship with patients guaranteeing efficiency in the system. The main downfall is that patients rarely have a choice in selecting their preferred doctors as they go hand in hand with the insurance company selected.

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The medical system of the United Kingdom is run mainly by the government (McClintock and Liberman 209). This is through the National Health Service. Although it is medical insurance, no premiums are collected. Costs are not charged on patients, and revenue paid is not collected from a pre-paid pool. Citizens usually pay for the medical charge through the collection of taxes. Funds are put aside for proper health care every financial year.

The insurance system is governed and has proved to be one of the most efficient cost-effective systems in the world. Patients in the UK have easy access to medical care, good out-of-hour care and patient engagement. The system is electronically shared meaning no matter what hospital one attends, the doctors can easily access the patient’s medical history before treatment is extended. The National Health Service covers primary care, inpatient care, long-term health, ophthalmology and dentistry. There are no extra charges for pre-existing medical care. As a result, equality is exercised within the health facilities.

Private insurance is still available in the UK and currently covers 8% of the UK population. Private insurance has proved unpopular in the UK due to high costing and limitations to the doctors one can visit. Private insurance only allows one to visit doctors enlisted in the insurance offered by the insurance company. This very aspect and the efficiency of the National Health Service make it unappealing to the most of British citizens.

UK health care system’s shortcoming is in the delays in seeing a doctor. Based on the fact that people try to access the same cover and doctors, it is usually made possible on a first come, first served basis. Both systems have proved sufficient but can learn a lot from each other in terms of costing and efficiency.

Whereas both systems aim to make medical care accessible, the following are the differences they have:

  • Cost: UK’s system is cheaper to the end consumer as they rely on taxes. However, the US relies on one’s income to access medical care. Hence, the cost varies depending on the insurance cover.
  • Efficiency: UK uses an electronic system whereby one’s medical history is accessible in any hospital. However, the US is yet to adopt this system. Thus, the dependence on a specific doctor to keep records occurs.
  • Flexibility: UK scheme covers inpatient, outpatient and even pre-existing medical conditions at no extra cost. In the US, one pays for the cover they require in times of emergency, and if an insurance is not covered, nothing can be done.
  • Delays: As there is direct communication with health provider in the US, one can book appointments thereby avoiding delays unlike in the UK, where there is a first come, first served basis.
  • Accessibility: UK’s scheme is more accessible as it is run by the government, having various branches in the country. The US is less accessible because payments must be made, and the public clinics are scarce.
  • Payment: Whereas the US requires one to save and invest to attain medical cover, UK is only a matter of registration and one has access to free medical care.

Health Care and Social Care

The United Kingdom having introduced universal health care also addressed the social interest of its citizens (McClintock and Liberman 194). This is because it gave value to their taxpayers as they understand how their money is spent and how it takes care of them. The department of health through the government aims at constantly improving the wellbeing of its people. They have also established NHS, a health care information center for both health and social care. They look at improving health care. As a result, they have linked their local organizations with national organizations. The link has brought about better health services and an increase in resources.

The UK has ensured that its citizens receive treatment from the best practitioners who must be qualified (McClintock and Liberman 195). Not only are they qualified but they are also sufficient in terms of numbers to meet the population's demand. All medical departments are equally sufficient in terms of provision of health care. The government has managed to establish trusts that help individuals access different facilities much easier. These trusts include ambulance trusts, National Health Service trusts, acute trusts and NHS foundation trusts.

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The United States has assigned the task of managing health care services to the US Department of Health and Human Services (McClintock and Liberman 200). These services can either be public/government health care or private health care. In the US, the patients are free to choose medical covers that they believe are helpful. The government does not fully control the operations of all health care providers. The country is focusing on readily accessible health care, so that they have introduced retail health care whereby retail stores offer walk-in health care facilities (McClintock and Liberman 201).They offer limited services at a cheaper fee.

There are no major differences within the two countries as their main aim is to offer the best health care. They both place the most qualified practitioners at the disposal of their citizens when they are needed. Any practitioner found to go against the health care policies and requirements will face the arm of the law. They also stand a chance of losing their certificate to practice, which cannot be reversed at any time in the future.


The main reason behind the establishment of health care systems in both countries is to serve their citizens. The paths they have taken to ensure that they are accessible show a difference. The governments of both countries have taken the provision of health care to heart. Majority of the population can now gain access to proper health care at affordable prices. A healthy nation is a wealthy and productive nation. Therefore, health care should be at the top of any government’s agenda.

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