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Health Care Systems Comparison: the US and the UK


Bernie Sander defines the US as one of the major countries on Earth with one of the weakest health care systems and suggests making it more like those developed in European countries, such as the United Kingdom (Dolan, 2016). The comparison developed in this paper is the first step to understanding the differences, strengths, and weaknesses of both countries, the US and the UK, in terms of their health care systems.

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Health Statistics and Costs

The comparison of the US and UK health care system begins with statistics on such issues life expectancies, mortality rates, and major health conditions. The evaluation of costs including health care expenditures in both countries is required.

The United States

Life expectancy is 78 – 79 years. Health care expenditure per capita is $9,024.21 that is 17.5% of the country’s GDP. Mortality rates are 724.6 deaths per 100,000 population (Kochanek, Sherry, Murphy, Xu, & Tejada-Vera, 2016). The major diseases are heart problems, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

The United Kingdom

Life expectancy is 81 years. Health care expenditure per capita is $3,971.39 that is 8.5% of the UK GDP (Appleby, 2016). Mortality rates are 1,010 deaths per 100,000 population. Cancer is the most common disease in the population. Other major health problems include circulatory and respiratory diseases.

Comparison of countries

The UK spends less money on its health care and has a higher level of life expectancy than the US does. Still, the UK rates of mortality are approximately 40% higher than in the US. In brief, the statistics and costs of the UK are better than those of the US.

Health Care Financing

Health care financing in the US and the UK differs in terms of the sectors and funds involved. The evaluation of the systems helps to comprehend which methods are better for people and beneficial for the government.

The United States

The country has a mixed financing system including government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, private insurance plans, and personal funds (Shay & Schumacher, 2014). Health care is usually delivered by private sectors where hospitals are under the control of profit companies. Tax subsidies and premiums are used to gather funds. 84% of the population has private health insurance or relies on Medicare. Other people depend on their personal finances and abilities. Still, the new Affordable Care Act aims at reducing the deficit by $143 billion and covering more than 32 million Americans with medical help (Jackson & Nolen, 2010).

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The United Kingdom

NHS public organizations usually provide funded care to the UK citizens (Guide to the healthcare system in England, 2013). There are also some private and voluntary providers of care. Almost all funds are collected through a strong tax system. 95% of the population relies on the work of the public sector.

Comparison of countries

The UK system is one of the best representatives of how a large public sector should work. Though the country has a low level of responsiveness to all its citizens, people have guarantees that they could be treated free. The US system does not provide people with such guarantees.

Health Care Administration

Many national government agencies provide assistance to prevent, detect, and treat diseases. The UK and US systems have several organizations to oversee, regulate, and promote the provision of services.

The United States

The Department of Health & Human Services protects the health of American people and performs numerous tasks to improve the current situation in the country. The National Institutes of Health promotes medical research. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality investigates ethical, racial, social, and other issues that may influence people’s health (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2011).

The United Kingdom

The Association of Independent Healthcare Organizations oversees and regulates healthcare services in the country. British Nursing Association promotes services and regulates the activities of nurses and other medical staff. The Department of Health takes responsibility for all changes in the country’s health system.

Comparison of countries

In both countries, agencies play an important role and help to stabilize the health of the population. In addition to local agencies, the US and the UK have a number of options to rely on. United Nations Agencies aim at overseeing the situation of global health. They are WHO and UNICEF that provide information about health in the country. Save the Children, Project Hope, and World Vision are the main US non-governmental organizations that regulate and service the provision of healthcare services.

Human Resources

The evaluation of human resources is important in the analysis. It shows how many people are involved in providing people with care.

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The United States

There are 294 physicians and approximately 1000 nurses per 100,000 population with 5,627 hospitals and 902,202 hospital beds in the country.

The United Kingdom

There are approximately 650 nurses and 275 physicians per 100,000 population with 3,490 hospitals and approximately 291,65 hospital beds.

Comparison of countries

The statistics show that in the US, more people could get jobs in the field of healthcare and get the required portion of help due to the number of available hospitals and beds in comparison to the results obtained in the UK.

Conclusion: Access and Equity Issues

Many citizens of the USA stay uninsured due to the existing ethnic, financial, and social differences. The same differences and challenges are not observed in the UK because the government focuses on the development of the public healthcare sector. In the US, Asians and non-Hispanic Whites under age 65 are likely to have health insurance in comparison to Hispanics and African-Americans (AHRQ, 2011). In the UK, the role of ethnic or income differences is not that crucial. Still, immigrants and people without citizenship cannot rely on free healthcare coverage.


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

Appleby, J. (2016). How does NHS spending compare with health spending internationally? The King’s Fund. Web.

Dolan, E.G. (2016). Bernie is right: The U.S. needs health care more like Europe’s. The World Post. Web.

Guide to the healthcare system in England: Including the statement of NHS accountability. (2013). Web.

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

Kochanek, K.D., Sherry, L., Murphy, B.S., Xu, J., & Tejada-Vera, B. (2016). Deaths: Final data of 2014. National Vital Statistics Reports, 65(4). Web.

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

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