The United States boasts many achievements in various fields, but one area that continues to challenge the nation is its healthcare system. Despite significant medical research, technological advancements, and some of the best hospitals in the world, the U.S. struggles with high costs, unequal access to care, and suboptimal health outcomes. In fact, the U.S. far outspends other Western countries in per capita spending and yet has higher infant mortality rates, shorter life spans, and greater out-of-pocket costs. To address these challenges, looking beyond national borders and learning from the best practices implemented in other countries is essential. In this blog, FirstLantic Healthcare explores how the U.S. healthcare system could benefit from studying and adopting successful healthcare models globally.
- Emphasize Preventive Care:
Many countries with top-performing healthcare systems place a strong emphasis on preventive care. They invest in early detection, regular health check-ups, and public health campaigns to promote healthier lifestyles. By prioritizing preventive measures, these countries reduce the burden of chronic diseases and save substantial costs in long-term treatments. While the United States spends an estimated $3.6 trillion annually on health, less than 3 percent of that spending is directed toward public health and prevention.
- Universal Healthcare Coverage:
Almost every Western country besides the U.S. has universal health coverage, including Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, and the United Kingdom. These systems ensure every citizen can access essential medical services without fearing financial ruin. While there are different models of universal healthcare, and none of them are perfect, the common goal is to guarantee access to basic healthcare as a fundamental right. Although the U.S. made significant progress with the American Care Act passed when President Obama was in office by increasing the insured by 20 million and preventing the denial of insurance based on preexisting conditions, we still do not have a national healthcare system. This means states still have a good deal of autonomy in how they run their programs, leading to unequal access.
- Negotiate Drug Prices:
Pharmaceutical costs significantly contribute to the high healthcare expenses in the U.S. Several countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies to ensure the affordability and accessibility of essential medications. These countries achieve better deals and reduced healthcare expenses by leveraging their purchasing power. The U.S. spends twice as much on prescription drugs as other comparatively wealthy nations, on average. In 2019, the latest year for which data are available, private insurers and government health programs spent $963 per capita on prescription drugs, while comparable countries spent an average of $466.
- Health Information Technology:
Countries like Singapore have invested heavily in health information technology (IT) infrastructure, creating centralized electronic health records and data-sharing platforms. These advancements streamline healthcare processes, enhance patient safety, and improve care coordination. Implementing robust health IT systems in the U.S. could lead to better patient outcomes, reduced medical errors, and increased efficiency across the healthcare system.
While the U.S. healthcare system faces significant challenges, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the best practices of other countries. While no country has a perfect healthcare system, there are some approaches that make common sense. By adopting preventive care measures, striving for universal healthcare coverage, negotiating drug prices, and investing in health IT, the U.S. can move to a more efficient, equitable, and patient-centered healthcare system. Implementing these changes would be a significant step towards ultimately improving the health and well-being of all Americans.
FirstLantic cares about your well-being. If you or someone you know needs home healthcare services in South Florida, FirstLantic can help. We are locally owned and operated, providing our patients with the best hourly home care solutions in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) and Delray Beach (Palm Beach County) since 2000. We have also been named Top Workplaces by the Sun Sentinel for 8 years in a row. Click here to contact us.
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