In the recent years, the close relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom seem reflect in most developmental areas. These two countries seem to learn from one another in advancing their strategies towards healthcare sustainability. One of these areas is the healthcare. Formosa Post (2014) reaffirms that the US has copied many of its systems from the UK and this is attributable to historical reasons. However, it is worth noting that there are significant organizational differences in the healthcare system structures that define the success and reliability of each system. In retrospect, the UK’s healthcare system commonly known as the National Health Service is reported to perform relatively better compared to the US healthcare system. According healthcare studies, objective indicators show significant developments within these two healthcare systems despite their organizational differences. Overall, the US healthcare consumes a high percentage of the national gross domestic product than the UK healthcare system. Budgetary allocations for healthcare in both countries show that UK spends about 8% of the country’s gross domestic product compared to the 15% share consumed by the US healthcare (Ham, 2005). Despite these difference in financing the two healthcare systems, the quality of medical services are more or less the same. However, these systems have not yet achieved high performing competencies in population health as it is the case with Sweden and Japan which are ranked the world’s high performing healthcare systems as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality. According a survey conducted in 2002, the US healthcare system was found to offer high quality medical care, whereas the UK healthcare system performed better in offering equitable care (Roe & Liberman, 2007). These differences imply that the achievements of the UK and the US healthcare systems are relatively different. Therefore, this paper seeks to provide a comprehensive comparison between the US and the UK healthcare systems.
An aesthetic comparison between the US healthcare system and the UK healthcare system requires an overview on the healthcare system models as discussed in Roemer’s analytical model. According to this analytical model, healthcare systems are categorized into three: the NHS model mandated insurance model and the entrepreneurial model. Therefore, the US healthcare system and UK healthcare system can be compared depending on the categories under which the two systems lie. From the health systems analytical model, it is apparent that the UK and the US use different healthcare systems. The US uses the entrepreneurial healthcare model, whereas the UK uses the NHS model, and the two are relatively different in many characteristics. The US’s entrepreneurial healthcare system is privatized. This system relies on the purchase of private health insurance. This health system model has been found to possess a number of benefits including cost-saving and advancement in medical technology due competition among health insurance providers. However, its drawback is inequality in medical services, and this explains why the number of uninsured Americans was quite high before the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. In contrast, the UK uses the NHS model of health system, a socialized system which is characterized by tax-based financing, controlled factors of production, universal coverage, and national ownership. In general, the UK’s NHS health system offers equitable healthcare to all citizens because the government is responsible for staffing healthcare facilities, as well as managing healthcare resources (Sanders, 2002).
Secondly, the US and UK healthcare systems exhibit differences in their infrastructure. In the UK system, the Department of Health provides support to social care organizations and NHS, in order to ensure that taxpayers receive high quality care. The NHS comprises of local entities known as strategic health authorities, as well as primary care trusts which provide care to patients. In the US system, two independent entities exist: the private healthcare and the public healthcare. The government operates the public healthcare through the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and it is regarded as the overall federal health agency responsible for controlling the public healthcare (Stahl, 2004).
On the other hand, health insurance in the US and UK health systems are relatively different. In the US healthcare system, health insurance exhibits employer-based system where employees pay deductibles to health insurance providers. The government operates public health insurance programs, primarily Medicare and Medicaid, whereas private health insurance comprises of different categories. In the US health insurance, financial risks are shared between the insurer and the insured through as contractual partnership (Stahl, 2004). In contrast, the UK health insurance system is operated by the government through a socialized health insurance program. This health insurance system is financed by the government through tax revenue, in order to offer fair and universal healthcare to all citizens.