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International Health System


Socialized medicine is described as a policy, in which health care is provided for the citizens of a country at a minimal cost. The government puts in place regulations for taxation and health nationalized medicine or universal health care. The government is in charge of the health care planning in an effort to standardize the health care costs. It is not to be confused with a single payer system, as the case in Canada, where the government puts regulations in place, but the services are offered by private entities. Thus, the Canadian health care is provided privately and is funded publicly. This system has been slow to response in the United States due to the rejection of socialism (Rushefsky 2006). This was introduced as a rejection to the proposal by President Harry S. Truman’s health care plan of 1947. Many of the developing and industrialized countries have adopted the universal system of health care, and it is only the United States that has not been seen to accept this trend. These include the United Kingdom, Canada, and most of European countries.


Health care in United Kingdom

Socialized medicine in the U.K. was introduced in the 1900s with the emergence of the national insurance bill that advocated for the provision of health care services for the male workers of age 16 and above. Through this system, the government contributed two pennies, the employers – three pennies, and the workers paid four pennies. Though it faced opposition to begin with, it was seen to work quite well and was fully adopted to serve the whole population and the National Health Service in 1948. It has been said to be a service that caters for those in need and is not based on affordability. All four constituents have similar services provided by the department of health and based on the same basic policies (Ham 2006).

The most important success behind the system is the freedom of choice. The citizens are at liberty to sign up with any physician they prefer. This is if the doctor has subscribed to the National Health Service (NHS), then there is no fee for a consultation. Patients will seek consultation from the NHS and will be advised about the nearest specialist, this is only with a referral from a qualified general physician, and are given the history of their services and the success of the service they seek. Many of the people prefer to stick to one physician and will maintain the relationship for a long time. This relationship makes it easier for both a patient and a doctor to function, also for the sake of stability. Those who seek services of private physicians will pay from their own pockets, although, at times, private hospitals will liaise with the NHS at an agreed price. Terminally ill patients like cancer patients get a privilege of having treatment at both the NHS funded facilities and privately run clinics. A survey conducted showed that only about 7% of those who were registered at the NHS and 8% of the independent patients did not receive the treatment they needed, while 98% were satisfied with the services they received.

The estimated cost of health care in the U.K. was estimated to be at £91.7 billion in the year 2008. The funds are met through the tax regulation enforced by the government. The beauty of it is that the provision of health care is not based on the taxes paid by an individual, but health care is given to foreigners as well. They are allowed to receive any form of treatment as long as the hospital is in line with the NHS regulation. Non-citizens and visitors are allowed free emergency services only, however. They will be required to pay for any other medical services they may need within the country borders.

Critics of the system may think that the quality of health care may be inadequate, but, contrary to this fact, the health care system in the United Kingdom was seen to be top-notch of all the countries surveyed. This is due to the level of research done that underline that the services are patient-oriented. Political influence is not well-defined, as political forces are not responsible for the decisions made in the supply of the health care services, but will have a say in reflection of quality level and services offered by being a voice of the U.K. people.

Case of the Unites States

Socialized medicine has received slow response, and the U.S. citizens have different perspectives regarding adoption of the system. 70% of Republicans are of the opinion that the adoption of the system will be detrimental to the country’s economy, while 70% of Democrats believe it will provide better services than the present system. The majority of critics believes that the system will be a subject to a significant government interference, others believe that the government will influence the medical decisions made by doctors, and that the government will be responsible for payment of medical fees. Many employees of the healthcare industry are for the idea of having nationalized health care in the country.

Political influence in opposition to this system is the main reason for the public negative perception of the health care plan. Many are against the government-run health care system with others considering it a violation of the citizens’ rights as the government denies them a freedom of choice. This theory can be disputed as with the case of the health care system in the U.K. The citizens have a wide array of hospitals they may choose to visit, and they decide where to go and if they will opt for private care. The amount the governmentally controlled health care would cost and whether there is a minimal government input are very important factors too. In the case of countries who have adopted the universal system, the heath care costs for citizens have declined significantly. This is largely due to lowered input costs and the application of economies of scale. A drop in spending on administrative costs could easily be seen. It is known to take up most of the country’s revenue. A good example is the spending in Finland, which is about 2.2% of the admin costs.

Also, it is necessary to observe the quality of the health care, which is given by a socialized health care system. According to the survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO 2000), the health care in the United States rated the 24th as compared to countries such as the U.K., Japan, and France. The health care in the United Kingdom also reserves a right to conduct assessments of the quality of medical services given to the population in the different NHS hospitals.



Despite the opposition to the universal health care system, in the last decade there has been significant increase in support of such system implementation. Nevertheless, there still are a lot of people opposing this system. The citizens will have to deal with the difficulties of the current health care system while the government tries to come up with the best form of health care plan for the country. The system has worked in the U.K., and, with a range of health care reforms, the United States could also succeed.

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