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American and British Healthcare Systems Comparison

The aim of the paper is to analyze the peculiarities of the US and UK healthcare sectors and compare the way they function.

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First of all, it is considered that healthcare is a right but not a privilege in the UK, which means that the access healthcare services provided by the National Health Service (NHS) is guaranteed to all citizens (University of Cambridge, n.d.). In the US, on the other hand, citizens and permanent legal residents are eligible for some of Medicare benefits only at age 65 (AARP, 2016). However, according to a recent study, retired Americans have to cover up to $245, 000 of out-of-pocket health costs over a 20-year period (CNN Money, n.d.).

Despite the fact that British pensioners increasingly opt for obtaining their healthcare services in Spain, when it comes to retirement, the US healthcare system is much worse than that of the UK (Legido-Quigley, Nolte, Green, Parra, & McKee, 2012).

Given that access to the NHS is provided on a universal basis, all citizens—including children—of the UK are eligible for any NHS treatment (University of Cambridge, n.d.). Furthermore, unemployed people in the UK do not have to pay contributions; however, they are also able to use the main services. In the USA the situation is different as healthcare coverage options are much more limited. Unemployed Americans are eligible for low-cost coverage either through the Marketplace or Medicaid (HealthCare, n.d.). Healthcare for the country’s children is provided though the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is funded through the federal government (Bui et al., 2017).

Therefore, there is also a significant difference in the coverage for medications peculiar to these healthcare systems. First of all, this difference comes from the model used to sponsor the health care. The fact is that the current UK health care rests on a specific taxation policy that takes part of citizens gross income (University of Cambridge, n.d.). It might seem rather high; however, it guarantees improved coverage and access to health services.

Besides, the requirements to get a referral to see a specialist might be considered similar. In the UK, if a person wants to be referred to a specialist in a particular field, he/she should first see a general practitioner he/she is registered with (NHS, n.d.a). It will help to collect all medical records related to a persons health and provide them specialist support. In the USA, Primary care Physician that delivers a routine care to a person provides a specialist with all information needed for a referral. These patterns contribute to the increased efficiency of these visits and patients ability to enjoy outstanding services.

As for the preexisting conditions, the situation is also similar in both countries. In the USA, health insurance companies are not able to refuse to cover an individual because of some preexisting conditions. It means that diseases like asthma, diabetes, etc. will not deprive a patient from the ability to use care (NHS, n.d.b). The same goes for the UK. Health insurance companies are not able to consider preexisting conditions as the barrier to the provision of coverage or obtaining care. For this reason, a person could count on insurance and be able to use medical services any time he/she needs them.

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Altogether, these two systems could be considered rather efficient as they are focused on the delivery of improved care to patients. The first financial implication of the fragmented healthcare system in the US is rising coverage costs that result in a lack of health insurance coverage for vulnerable social groups. Out of pocket charges for the US population covered by private health insurance is another financial implication of the country’s healthcare system (Ridic, Gleason & Ridic, 2012). Citizens of the UK, on the other hand, do not have to worry about outrageous healthcare bills. However, they are not capable of paying for the provision of better, more expensive services (Legido-Quigley et al., 2012).


Although the goal of both systems is to deliver the most effective and efficient care as possible. Both systems appear to have its advantages and disadvantages, and both would benefit from improvement in certain areas to adequately meet the needs of its population.


AARP. (2016). Do you qualify for Medicare? Web.

Bui, A., Dieleman, J., Hamavid, H., Birger, M., Chapin, A., Duber, H.,…Murray, D. (2017). Spending on children’s personal health care in the United States, 1996-2013. JAMA Pediatrics, 171(2), 181-189.

CNN Money. (n.d.). Ultimate guide to retirement. Web.

HealthCare. (n.d.). Health coverage options if you’re unemployed. Web.

Legido-Quigley, H., Nolte, E., Green, J., Parra, D., & McKee, M. (2012). The health care experiences of British pensioners migrating to Spain: A qualitative study. Health Policy, 105(1), 46-54.

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NHS. (n.d.a). Specialist referrals and services your GP may recommend. Web.

NHS. (n.d.b). Pre-existing conditions. Web.

Ridic, G., Gleason, S., & Ridic, O. (2012). Comparisons of health care systems in the United States, Germany and Canada. Materia Sociomedica, 24(2): 112-120.

University of Cambridge. (n.d.). Eligibility for NHS treatment. Web.

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