Health care around the world

Beth Rozacky

     As the United States struggles to form its own government-run health care program, the country turns to the abundant examples of universal health care present in other countries. Other countries have implemented various forms of government supplied health care within their borders, long before the debate for United States reform hit the scene. Our close neighbor Canada has maintained its publicly-funded health care plan for over 50 years. The Canadian government made its first official plans for universal health care in 1946 with the introduction of union hospitals run by the provincial government of Saskatchewan. Over the course of several years, Canadian officials have included several acts into the comprehensive Canada Health Act. Gradualism and patient reform have allowed Canada to build a strong, nationalized system of health care services.  It is to this wise example, and plentiful others around the world, that the United States looks to in its quest for a comprehensive health care system. Some argue that the United States is too expansive, its government too complicated to implement a comprehensive health care system. However, there are many countries with comparable populations and bureaucracies that are able to provide their citizens with health care options. China, for example, has an impressively expansive population, yet their government spends a portion of its annual budget on the county’s health care services to ensure that its people have access to a piece of the pie. The examples in the graph below detail the many different nationalized health care programs of several diverse countries. While these countries differ demographically, economically and politically, they have all managed to provide their citizens with a secure health plan.