American and Icelandic Healthcare Systems


Iceland was selected in this case because its healthcare system is viewed as one of the most efficient. It would be reasonable to compare the situation in these regions to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and it will be possible to identify the areas that are the most problematic and need to be addressed.

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Health Statistics and Costs

Information about health statistics and costs will be provided in the discussion below and will be compared. The most attention will be devoted to such aspects as life expectancy, mortality rates, critical health problems, and expenditures on healthcare.

The United States

Life expectancy is 81.2 for females, and 76.4 for males in the United States. The approximate number of deaths is 821.5 per hundred thousand people. It is suggested that heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases are the most problematic (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2015). Health spending as a percentage of GDP was 17.1 in 2014 (The World Bank, 2016a).


According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2014), life expectancy is 81.6 for males, and 84.3 for females. It is noted that mortality rates were 63.68 for men and 39.76 for women based on a 2008 report. It is also stated that the biggest number of people suffer because of cardiovascular diseases and cancer (Causes of death 2009, 2010). Health spending as a percentage of GDP was 9.0 in 2012 (Iceland economic indicators, n.d.).

Comparison of countries

It is imperative to state that the situations in these countries are intriguing. The fact that Iceland does not spend enormous funds on healthcare provision and still manages to achieve higher life expectancy and lower mortality rates indicates that the current system in the United States is inefficient and needs to be improved because it is rated rather poorly among the well-developed countries.

Health Care Financing

The discussion will be focused on the collection of funds. The information collected will be discussed and compared.

The United States

Shay and Schumacher (2014) state that 72 percent of spending is covered by health insurance, 12% are provided out of pocket, 6% are investments, 3% are government activities, and the rest is paid by third parties and programs.

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Close to 64,3% is covered by funds collected via taxation (Himmelstein & Woolhandler, 2016). Medicare and Medicaid make up an enormous percentage of all the insurance, and employers are also viewed as primary providers of coverage (Chua, 2006). The Affordable Care Act increases the number of enrollees, and it is financed by 3.5% tax on investment earning, forty percent excise taxation, and 10% tax paid for indoor tanning (Jackson & Nolen, 2010).


Nearly 80.4 percent of all expenses are covered by taxes. It is stated that citizens have to pay for 18,2 out of the pocket in most cases, and only 1,4 percent were covered by non-profit institutions in 2011. All the employers are obligated to pay taxes depending on the wage percentage, and it goes directly into the State Treasury. Another fascinating aspect that needs to be highlighted is that inpatients are not charged for the treatment, but outpatients may have to pay fees regulated by the government.

Only such vulnerable groups of people as elders receive subsidies or free dental care. Pricing of drugs is another point that needs to be discussed. Individuals that need critical medicines are offered full reimbursement, and they may have to pay a significant percentage of the cost for other types. Also, painkillers and antibiotics are not covered by the government (Sigurgeirsdóttir, Waagfjörð, & Maresso, 2014).

Comparison of Countries

The system in the United States is quite complicated, and the approach used in Iceland may be described as much more reasonable and appropriate. The difference in taxation is also significant. On the other hand, it is acknowledged that it also has several limitations. For instance, spending has exceeded yearly allocations on numerous occasions, and the government has been trying to minimize unnecessary expenses (Sigurgeirsdóttir et al., 2014). Overall, it will be nearly impossible to implement a similar system in the United States because insurance companies play a crucial role, and the situation is not expected to change anytime soon.

Health Care Administration

The discussion is going to be focused on the regulation of healthcare provision in these countries. Agencies and their primary goals will be mentioned.

The United States

Many departments focused on healthcare are operating in the United States at the moment. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services develops policies related to healthcare, and its central mission is to increase the health levels of the population. The Food and Drug Administration regulates the medications, and its goal is to eliminate the drugs that are not safe. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) participates in the administration of Medicaid and Medicare programs, and it also develops particular standards that would improve the quality of healthcare and may help to reach equality (Niles, 2014).


Ministry of Welfare is an agency that is responsible for healthcare in the country. It establishes policies, regulations, and its primary goal is to control finances to reach the number of positive outcomes. Icelandic Health Insurance manages the coverage to make sure that every citizen has access to necessary services, and the Directorate of Health ensures that safe treatments are provided through issuing policies and promoting preventive measures (Sigurgeirsdóttir et al., 2014).

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Comparison of Countries

It is quite evident that the system is much more complicated in the United States overall, and it would be appropriate to combine some of the functions to increase the level of effectiveness. The problem is that it has established over many years, and significant changes to current policies are required.

Health Care Personnel and Facilities

The discussion focuses on healthcare professionals and institutions. The numbers of employees will be mentioned and compared.

The United States

Currently, 920.9 nurses per 100.000 are available in the United States (Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), 2013). Also, 2.5 physicians were employed for every 1.000 citizens in 2011 (The World Bank, 2016b). 5.627 hospitals are currently registered in the United States (American Hospital Association, 2016).


The number of physicians was 3.6, and 15.2 nurses per one thousand citizens in 2014. Also, 3.3 hospital beds are available for every 1.000 people (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2014).

Comparison of Countries

It can be seen that the number of health professionals is much bigger in the United States. However, the services and treatments provided are less efficient as a whole.

Conclusion: Access and Inequality Issues

It is suggested that whites receive better health care than minorities in the United States most of the time. Also, access to such services is limited for some individuals because of the levels of income and other factors. Blacks, Asians, and Hispanic individuals suffer the most based on available data (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2011). Nearly 37.5 million are uninsured (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2016). On the other hand, it is suggested that the population in Iceland does not have to deal with such limitations and access is equal, and only 0.1 percents of the population require private insurance (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2011).


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). (2011). Disparities in healthcare quality among racial and ethnic groups: Selected findings from the 2011 National Healthcare Quality and Disparity reports. Web.

American Hospital Association. (2016). Fast facts on US hospitals. Web

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Causes of death in 2009. (2010). Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015). FastStats: How healthy are we? Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2016). FastStats: Health insurance coverage. Web.

Chua, K. (2006). Overview of the U.S. healthcare system. Web.

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). (2013). The U.S. nursing workforce: Trends in supply and education. Web.

Himmelstein, D. U., & Woolhandler, S. (2016). The current and projected taxpayer shares of US health costs. American Journal of Public Health, 106(3), 449-452.

Iceland economic indicators. (n.d.). Web.

Jackson, J., & Nolen, J. (2010). Health care reform summary: A look at what’s in the act. CBS News. Web.

Niles, N. J. (2014). Basics of the U. S. health care system (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2011). Coverage for health care. Web.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2014). OECD health statistics 2014: How does Iceland compare? Web.

Shay, P., & Schumacher, E. (2014). U.S. health care delivery: An overview. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University.

Sigurgeirsdóttir, S., Waagfjörð, J., & Maresso, A. (2014). Iceland: Health system review. Health Systems in Transition, 16(6), 1-182.

The World Bank. (2016a). Health expenditure, total (% of GDP). Web.

The World Bank. (2016b). Physicians (per 1,000 people). Web.

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