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Health Insurance in Other Countries 

Germany, Britain & Canada

Under the guidance of Chancellor Prince Otto von Bismark, Germany began a national health insurance scheme in 1883. This scheme was subsidized by the state and fostered the development of universal health insurance in numerous other European countries shortly after.

Soon after World War II, national health insurance was commonplace in Britain and Europe. In Britain, employers and employees provide weekly contributions to finance a comprehensive health insurance system which provides cover for in and out patient care, and coverage for a broad, basic but still fairly high standard of medical service.

Citizens are able to supplement the national scheme with their own private insurance, and in that manner retain more control of where and what health services they access. In Canada, every citizen has had thorough coverage for health service since 1972. Latterly in 1984 this system was refined to provide universal coverage which is portable, comprehensive and designed to prevent profiteering by service providers and keeping the costs of health services suppressed.

Here too, people are able to access private health insurance to obtain coverage for health services that the national scheme does not cover.

Many countries create government facilities that employ doctors and other medical staff directly in order to provide a national health service to their citizens, and this method of health administration is most apparent in Brazil, Mexico and Russia. This style of health commercialization of health services is already apparent in the United States and California, as large insurance companies seek to save costs in health care claims by providing their own health care facilities, and then employing suitable professionals to administer health care within them.

However, an alternative approach is found in Britain, Norway and Spain, where the government outsources expertise and pays doctors and other professionals in private practice, to provide health services for the citizens of the nation.

China & Australia

Due to the enormous funding required to maintain any health insurance scheme, particularly one of national universal coverage, countries such as China offer attractive incentives to employers and individuals to obtain supplementary health insurance through private enterprise.

Australia too offers incentives to people to supplement the national scheme with private health insurance plans. In Australia however, increasingly, more people have abandoned private health insurance due to the relatively high and comprehensive coverage of the national health scheme.

Countries like Australia provide a relatively high standard of public health care, but do so at the controversy of public expense that is funded primarily by taxation. Invariably, this extra taxation is derived from sources representing capital and investment, and in the absence of economic favor such as an extended resources boom, may well serve to crush the economic growth of the country when investment is dampened though penalty taxation.

In turn the cost of such luxurious health care will take its toll on the public purse and then need to be prioritized alongside other competing public interests.

Finland is another country with a vibrant and functional health insurance scheme of national proportions. The scheme is funded by a combination of taxation and user charges, and so the burden on public resources is reduced somewhat. In the main, hospitals are run directly by the government or by teaching universities, but private practitioners are also accessed by the scheme.

Due to the requirement for some contribution to be made by the user of health services, the Finnish system offers a fair and equitable opportunity for the community to be covered for a broad range of quality health services. The burden is not onerous; after a citizen has expended certain amount, the balance is provided at public expense. 

 

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