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How Does It Work In The US And The Other Countries

Health insurance is functioning in the US and many other countries of the world in varying forms and making a number of concessions to the different strata of the demography. But, owing to the ever growing population, spurt in the number of diseases and their complexity, Countries find them rather unmanageable. They are not made to be cost-effective either. With this backdrop, a glimpse into the health insurance practices obtaining in some leading countries is made for your benefit.

The US:

Both private and public health insurance programs operate in the US, though private health care policies are more popular. They help you mitigate your medical expenses in various percentages depending upon the healthcare policy taken. The medical emergencies covered by the health insurance facility are injury, sickness, disability, accident and death due to accident and limb amputations under medical compulsion.

Public programs chiefly concentrate on low-income groups and their children, apart from senior citizens. Medicaid is a public program jointly funded by Federal and State, but administered at State level for the benefit of poor children and families. Similarly, Medicare is a federal social scheme covering senior citizens and disabled people. Veterans Health Administration and TRICARE schemes operate for giving military and health benefits. And, SCHIP, a federal-state co-sponsored program covers families and children who are not covered by Medicaid, and who can’t afford private insurance. For low- income families, some States offer still more policies to ensure maximum coverage.

The UK:

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS), a publicly-funded healthcare system gives coverage to anybody normally living in the UK. In the strict sense of the term, it may not be a health insurance regimen as (1) no premiums are collected, (2) services are not charged at the patient’s level, and (3) expenses are not pre-paid from any fund. But, it meets the main purpose of insurance compensating the monetary implications of sickness. Its estimated operational costs are 104 billion in 2007-08, which are directly met from general taxation. The NHS is the main health provider in the UK, covering in-patient care, primary care, ophthalmology, dentistry, and long-term health care.

Private health care and private insurance also thrive in the country, but at a minimal level of below 8% of the population. Surprisingly, cases like pregnancy are excluded from coverage by private insurance. Likewise, it has lot of negatives.


Each province operates its own health insurance system. The Federal government transfers funds to the provinces to help meet the cost of the health insurance schemes. Commonly called Medicare, public insurance in Canada is tax-funded from the general government revenues.

Private health insurance is allowed only in six provinces for treatments which public health plans do not cover such as prescription drug schemes, semi-private and private rooms in hospitals.

Canada’s policy is that all citizens should enjoy free access to medically necessary services such as care in hospitals.


Known as Medicare, the Australian public health system takes care of hospital treatment and subsidised out-patients medical treatment. Its funding is achieved by collecting 1.5% tax levy from all tax payers, an extra 1% levy from high-income earners and from general revenue. Private health system is financed by private health insurance agencies. These mostly operate with no profit motive. They collect premiums on community rating basis which means that premiums do not depend on individual’s past history, age and health, but on pre-existing ailment conditions.

Though the countries and their health insurance schemes vary, the objective is the same-to provide health care to all citizens easily at affordable costs.

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