For almost all the countries in the world, there is a certain amount set in the budget for the healthcare of its citizens. The amount set aside in the budget is typically higher for developed nations compared to developing or third world states. Obviously, even for the developed states, there are factors involved that affect the amount to be set aside. An example of such a factor would be the policymakers themselves and their personal opinions and bias.
Countries That Spend the Most on Healthcare
The United States spends the highest amount with a colossal figure of $9,892. Switzerland comes in the second place with a value of $7,919, with Luxembourg following closely with a figure of $7,463. Norway and Germany close the top five with figures of $6,647 and $5,551 respectively. In 10th place is Japan at $4,519.
One of the reasons why the US spends so much money is that the costs of pharmaceuticals and medical appliances are high. These prices, which are around 17% of the GDP, are higher because companies have monopolies on their products through the patent system. In addition, the US government has not put down measures to ensure that these companies charge fair rates for their products. The higher revenues that these companies gain is in turn used to market the existing products and encourage their use. Poor and unregulated insurance policies by legislators and high administrative costs have also played a part in the high costs of healthcare.
High costs of medication are not just experienced in the US. The price of healthcare is going up all over the world. For example, Switzerland’s spending on healthcare went up to 12.2% of the GDP in 2016 compared to the 11.9% of 2015. While there are universal reasons for the rise, Switzerland has some interesting statistics that have contributed to the high spending. One of them is that the country has a compulsory system where individuals have to purchase private health insurance. The government and employers cover only 35% of this insurance cost. High out-of-the-pocket cash spent on healthcare is also another factor for Switzerland. A study conducted in 2012 showed that Switzerland had the highest figure for out-of-the-pocket spending on healthcare with a staggering $2,412 per person.
The healthcare system in Japan is largely catered for by the government (70%) while the patients foot the remaining 30%. The law requires all the people to have health insurance. Unlike the US, Japan does a number of things differently that have ensured a much lower cost. For example, the government strictly regulates the sector to ensure that medical services and medicines are fairly priced. In addition, there is special consideration for low-income households. The prices are different depending on the level of income.
The Obamacare Initiative
Countries have tried to come up with ways to lower the costs. An example of such a plan is the implementation of the “Obamacare” initiative by the US, which was aimed towards getting more people insured. While the initiative had attractive plans, it has failed to slow the growing healthcare costs. In addition, it faces plenty of hostility from the Trump government.