The Grass Is Not Always Greener: A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World

A closer look shows that nearly all health care systems worldwide are wrestling with problems of rising costs and lack of access to care. Overall trends from national health care systems around the world suggest the following: Health insurance does not mean universal access to health care. In practice, many countries promise universal coverage but ration care or have long waiting lists for treatment. In countries weighted heavily toward government control, people are most likely to face waiting lists, rationing, restrictions on physician choice, and other obstacles to care. Countries with more effective national health care systems are successful to the degree that they incorporate market mechanisms such as competition, cost sharing, market prices, and consumer choice, and eschew centralized government control. The broad and growing trend is to move away from centralized government control and to introduce more market-oriented features.

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