Health care refers to a variety of healthcare services provided by hospitals, physicians, nurses, clinics, and other healthcare professionals. Health systems are defined as healthcare organizations that comprise a network of hospitals, physicians and other providers and operate through either joint management (foundation models) or through private, non-profit or public ownership (for-profit and not-for-profit health systems).
Different approaches to the organization of health care differ from country to country, as do opinions about what kind of system is best for the world as a whole. One school of thought suggests that the best approach to healthcare is efficiency: a system should allocate resources for healthcare only when the marginal benefit exceeds the marginal cost, a concept known as “cost-benefit.” This approach emphasizes that decisions about what and how much to spend on health care are best made using objective metrics such as life expectancy (for every $1 spent in OECD countries on healthcare, average life expectancy increases by about 0.4 years).
Another view is one of fairness. Some people believe that everyone has a right to healthcare, regardless of ability to pay. They advocate a government-run system that is free for all. They argue that since healthcare is a basic human need, it should be guaranteed by a government agency. They also argue that there are intrinsic moral and ethical values in the idea of equal access to healthcare.
A third viewpoint is that the best solution to healthcare involves the use of the principles of the free market. Free markets create a competitive ecosystem that provides consumers with the information, choices and prices they need to choose and purchase healthcare in ways that maximize their own well-being. They include innovative, high quality products and services that have the potential to improve people’s lives through improved health outcomes and increased efficiency.
Currently, the U.S. spends far more per capita on health care than the OECD’s 10 other high-income nations. Moreover, it has the lowest life expectancy and the highest death rates for avoidable or treatable conditions and suicides among the group.
To address these problems, we compared the United States to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Our analysis took into account per-capita spending on a combination of government and compulsory private insurance, and the performance of the healthcare system in terms of life expectancy, hospitalizations, deaths for preventable or treatable conditions and suicides. It also examined a number of factors that may contribute to higher healthcare spending, including: