A country’s health care system is one of the biggest contributing factors to the well being of its people. It impacts a country’s financial situation, not to mention the general health of a country’s people. We know that the USA is one of the most developed and powerful countries in the world. Maybe surprisingly, its health care system simply does not hold up when compared with the countries on this list. This is not completely the United States’ fault. It faces more of a struggle in providing cheap health care to its people because its population is more than double that of any of the ones on this list. It’s also much larger in terms of size than any of the countries on this list.
Still, the United States’ health care wouldn’t have even made the top twenty. Also, its life expectancy doesn’t even crack the top fifty in the world. Despite this, the United States will spend more money per capita on health care than any country in the world in 2018. Surely there is something to be learned from the health care systems on this list.
Perhaps a surprising omission from this list is Canada. Due to Canada’s closeness and likeness to the United States, the countries are often compared. The two countries had similar health care programs in the 1970s, until Canada switched to a nationally funded system. Today, in comparisons, Canada always comes out on top. Canada spends less than the US on health care, and they have higher life expectancy. Canada provides universal health care to all citizens, with the money coming from taxes. Still, while Canada’s health care system beats out the US’, it has a way to go before it could crack this list of the top 10 health care systems in the world.
The Top 10 Countries with the Best Health Care – 2023 List
Japan has a high standard of healthcare, which partly explains the country’s long life expectancy. For one thing, the statutory health insurance system (SHIS) covers more than 98% of the population. Not only is it available for citizens, but it’s also free for foreigners and expatriates (given that they’ve stayed in the country for more than a year). A type of universal health care, it covers the majority of treatments including dental care, hospice care, and mental health care.
There’s also a separate system for the poor. That is, medical fees are waived for low-income households that are receiving a subsidy from the government. That’s not all, by law, hospitals must also be run as non-profit and managed by physicians.
Austria has a two-tier health care system that provides publicly funded care for all its citizens, as well as those from other EU countries—all they need is an European Health Insurance Card. Individuals also have the option of purchasing private health insurance.
Generally speaking, enrolment in the public health care system is automatic (the cost of public insurance depends on one’s income and is not related to an individual’s risk factors or medical history). Insurance is also guaranteed to pensioners, those receiving unemployment benefits, the disabled, students, and co-insured persons such as dependents and spouses. Those who are insured are given an e-card, which must be presented prior to treatment.
In terms of hospitals, they can either be privately run or state-run. The same goes for medical clinics.
Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system; it’s designed primarily to ensure that every citizen has access to “medically necessary and hospital services.” Guided by the Canada Health Act of 1984, the universal healthcare system provides medical coverage for 70 percent of Canadian’s healthcare needs; the remaining 30 percent, which includes eye care, dental care, and prescription drugs, is paid for via private insurance. Seniors, minors, and those with disabilities are also eligible for extended coverage.
As it is, the majority of Canadians receive their health insurance through their employers or secondary social service programs. The only drawback is that rural areas are not covered sufficiently compared to urban areas.
Germany is one of the most medically advanced countries in the world, partly due to the fact that it’s home to some of the best medical technology universities. Like most European countries, it has a universal system—one that has two main types of health insurance: public health insurance and private insurance. As of 2023 approximately 88 percent of those with health insurance fall into the former category.
Citizens are also offered three health benefits, which are co-financed by employees and employers; this includes accident insurance, long-term care insurance, and health insurance.
According to the Euro Health Consumer Index, Germany had the most consumer-oriented and most restriction-free healthcare system in the EU. In 2017, the country kept a record reserve of over €18 billion, making it one of the healthiest healthcare systems worldwide at the time.
6. The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has one of the best universal, government-run healthcare systems in the world. It’s important to note, however, that it’s a devolved matter, with Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and English each with their own publicly funded system. Still, the performance of the National Health Service (NHS) can be measured across the UK for the purposes of making comparisons.
Not only does the public healthcare system provide primary healthcare and referrals, but hospitals also offer specialist services including those for mental health issues. Emergency air transport is also provided by air, military, and naval aircrafts in specific emergencies. That’s not all, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UK also has the best palliative care in the world.
Despite that, approximately 10% of the population pays for private health insurance—typically for faster access to elective care
Singapore’s healthcare system is unique in that it’s financed through a mixed system. More specifically, it’s done through a mixture of cost-sharing, national healthcare insurance, compulsory comprehensive savings, and direct government subsidies. Like most countries, there are two main systems: a publicly funded government-run universal system and a private healthcare sector.
In terms of the public health system, it’s run primarily by Medisave, a mandatory accounts system in which all permanent residents and working citizens must set aside a portion of their income, which they can then use to pay their medical bills. There’s also a Central Provident Fund that covers those who do not have sufficient savings for treatments.
France has a universal health care system that’s primarily financed by the government. According to the World Health Organization, they provide the “best overall health care” in the world. In 2017, they spent over 11 percent of GDP on healthcare, a figure that’s higher than any other country.
As it is, all citizens must pay mandatory health insurance. Generally speaking, the premium is deducted from an individual’s pay automatically. After paying for medical treatment a portion of the fees is reimbursed—usually 70 percent, though it can be as high as 100 percent, depending on the condition. The remaining amount is paid by the patient but can also be reimbursed if they have a complementary health insurance policy.
Australia has the second-highest healthcare system score and comes out at the top for health outcomes, according to the Commonwealth Fund Study. Since 1986, their universal Medicare system has covered the cost of hospital stays and other services such as physiotherapy, for Australian citizens, permanent residents, and some foreign visitors. To be eligible for on-the-spot coverage, patients simply need to present their Medicare card at the time of treatment.
Individuals are also encouraged to purchase private health insurance to cover services that are not covered by Medicare, such as dental care, cosmetic surgery, and vision care. Depending on the location, however, some are covered by territory or state governments.
Switzerland has a universal healthcare system that’s regulated by the Swiss Federal Law on Health Insurance. What sets it apart from other countries is that there are no free, state-run services. Rather, universal healthcare is achieved by compulsory private health insurance, though there is some government involvement in some cases.
As it is, health insurance covers the costs associated with most medical treatments, as well as hospitalization. However, there is an annual deductible that the patient must pay as part of the treatment cost. If an individual cannot afford their insurance premium for the basic health plan, the government will provide them with a cash subsidy to help pay for their insurance.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that there’s no charge in case of pregnancy, though one must pay a contribution to hospitalization service and room costs.
The Danish healthcare system provides equal, universal, and free healthcare services to all of its citizens. This includes primary and preventative care, hospital care, specialist care, children’s dental services, long-term care, and mental health care. In fact, their healthcare system is more efficient than any other developed country in the world.
Senior citizens who are unable to live independently are also offered home care services for free, including personal care and practical care. Not only that but the government also provides home visits and preventative measures for those above the age of 80.
Outpatient prescription drugs, physiotherapy, optometry services, and adult dental care are also partially covered through government subsidies. In total, out-of-pocket payments accounted for 13.7% of total health expenditures in 2016, the majority of which covered corrective lenses, dental care, outpatient drugs, and hearing aids.