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Comparison of Healthcare Systems: The United States and Switzerland


The comparison of two separate healthcare systems of different countries can provide an opportunity to find similar and distinctive features in the delivery of medical care to the population. As the objects of analysis, two countries will be considered – the USA and Switzerland, and integrated assessment will help to determine the merits and demerits of the quality of services provided.

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Health Statistics and Cost

This section focuses on the study of health statistics and the costs of healthcare systems in the US and Switzerland. As the key aspects, the following factors will be compared: mortality rates, life expectancies, major health conditions/diseases, healthcare expenditure (% of gross domestic product), and healthcare expenditure ($) per capita as the ratio of the total population.

The United States

The mortality rate is “844.0 deaths per 100,000 population;” health diseases are major ones (633,842); life expectancy is 78.8 years (CDC, 2015). According to Squires and Anderson (2015), healthcare expenditure is “$4,197 per capita in the U.S. in 2013” (p. 6). As the authors note, in the same year, “the U.S. spent 17.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care” (Squires & Anderson, 2015, p. 3).


Life expectancy is 82.9; cardiovascular illnesses are major (105 per 100,000 population); the mortality rate is 780.0 per 100,000 population (Squires & Anderson, 2015, p. 15). Healthcare expenditure is 11.1%, and the same indicator per capita is $6,325 (Squires & Anderson, 2015, p. 5).

Comparison of countries

Regarding most indicators, Switzerland is superior to the US (life expectancy and healthcare expenditures). Concerning the prevailing diseases, heart illnesses occupy a leading position in both countries. Also, the mortality rate is lower in Switzerland than in the US.

Healthcare Financing

In this section, information is discussed regarding the financing of health services for residents of the two countries. The ratio of private and public funding is also considered. As the main aspects of the assessment, the amount of funds from the two spheres is estimated.

The United States

According to Chua (2006), the US system of healthcare financing may be called a “multi-payer” scheme since both private insurance companies and the government are involved in this process (p. 3). The recent Affordable Care Act adopted in 2010 implies investing from different sources, including taxes. In percentage terms, the shares of financing are approximately equal (about 50% of private and public investments) (Chua, 2006).

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In Switzerland, healthcare facilities are financed by both the local government boards and health insurance that is mandatory in the country. The system does not imply using taxes, and the way of subsidized private financing is practiced. Most of the funds come from the state (about 67%), and the smaller part is from the private sector (about 33%) (Squires & Anderson, 2015, p. 3).

Comparison of countries

In Switzerland, the private financing of the healthcare system is developed better than in the US. In the European country, various insurance organizations spend much money on caring for the safety of citizens. However, after adopting the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured Americans has declined, which has contributed to the development of the sphere in question.

Healthcare Administration

In this section, the administrative features of the two healthcare systems will be considered. The main controlling, regulating, and insuring boards will be listed and compared.

The United States

The US Department of Health and Human Services oversees various agencies providing medical care (Chua, 2006). State governments regulate local healthcare departments and control compliance with the current laws (Shay & Schumacher, 2014). Different insurance organizations protect the population and issue-specific documents.


The municipal, cantonal, and federal boards are responsible for overseeing, regulating, and insuring citizens (Squires & Anderson, 2015). At the highest level (federal), the supervision of all the branches of the country’s healthcare is carried out, and mandatory health insurance procedures are overseen. Cantonal boards regulate the work of local departments and control their activities.

Comparison of countries

In the US, individual boards control different areas of healthcare. In Switzerland, the supervision and insurance procedures are carried out at the same level. Regulatory systems at regional levels are similar in the two countries.

Healthcare Facilities and Human Resources

In this section, available human resources and facilities will be considered. As a calculation method, the information will be presented per 100,000 population in both countries.

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The United States

According to the American Hospital Association (2018), the number of US-registered hospitals is 5,534, and the indicator of available beds is 283 per 100,000 population. The total number of nurses is 1,160 per 100,000 population, and, as Squires and Anderson (2015) note, in 2013, the number of practicing physicians was 260 per 100,000 population (p. 7).


The number of hospital beds in Switzerland is 460 per 100,000 population, and the whole number of hospitals is 283 (Squires & Anderson, 2015, p. 7). Regarding human resources in the country, the indicator of nurses is 1,800 per 100,000 population, and the number of physicians is 400 100,000 population (Squires & Anderson, 2015, p. 7).

Comparison of countries

According to the results obtained, Switzerland is richer in human resources in health than the US. As Blais and Hayes (2015) remark, the number of employees is directly proportional to the quality of care. The hospital bed ratio is identical, which, nevertheless, is beneficial for the European country since its population is much smaller.

Conclusion: Access and Equity Issues

According to AHRQ (2011), there are cases when health disparities in the quality of care and access may be observed. It particularly relates to ethnic minorities and immigrants with low income. As Jackson and Nolen (2010) argue, about 32 million Americans are uninsured, and the adoption of the Affordable Care Act may correct the situation (para. 2).


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. (2018). Fast facts on U.S. hospitals, 2018. Web.

Blais. K. K., & Hayes, J. S. (2015). Professional nursing practice: Concepts and perspectives (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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

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

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

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

Squires, D., & Anderson, C. (2015). US health care from a global perspective: Spending, use of services, prices, and health in 13 countries. The Commonwealth Fund, 15, 1-19.

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