“Health is like money. We never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” Josh Billings, writer
Our health is important to all of us. Some countries are better at providing quality healthcare than others. In this article, we look at the ten best healthcare systems in the world. This is measured by the length and quality of life scale, plus the absence of disease in those countries.
In its assessment of world health care systems in 2000, the World Health Organization found that France provided the “close to best overall health care” in the world.
The French healthcare system is recognised as offering the best, or one of the best, services of public health care in the world. Above all, it is a system that works, provides universal coverage, and is a system that is strongly defended by virtually everyone in France.
The healthcare system in France is made up of a fully-integrated network of public hospitals, private hospitals, doctors and other medical service providers. It is a universal service providing health care for every French person, regardless of wealth, age or social status.
Funding Of Health Care In France
The French healthcare system is funded in part by obligatory health contributions levied on all salaries, and paid by employers, employees and the self-employed. It is also paid in part by central government funding and in part by users who have to pay a small fraction of the cost of most acts of health care that they receive.
The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. Approximately 77% of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.
Italy ranks among the World Health Organization’s top 10 countries for quality health services. (By contrast, the U.S. only holds 37th place, despite being the highest spender.) Although medical facilities are considered to be adequate for any emergency, some public hospitals are reportedly overcrowded and under-funded.
The Italian National Health Service (INHS) was established in 1978. This was done to grant universal access to a uniform level of care throughout Italy, financed by general taxation. The INHS provides universal coverage and free healthcare at the point of delivery to all Italian and European Union citizens. Italy has a national health plan, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, which provides for hospital and medical benefits.
Of course, you don’t have to rely solely on public health facilities. Like many Italians, you can avail of the parallel private medical service, known as the assicurazione sulla salute. This service caters to patients covered by private medical insurance.
However, in some small towns, particularly in the south, you will only be able to access the public health system. Private doctors and hospitals congregate in bigger cities where residents are more likely to have private medical insurance.
Healthcare in San Marino is provided through a universal health care system. Private healthcare also compliments it. San Marino’s healthcare system is consistently rated as one of the top three in Europe.
State healthcare is provided through the Azienda Sanitaria Locale national health insurance fund. All employees must register with it upon starting a job. Upon registration, they are issued with a health card and number and are automatically registered with a doctor in their neighbourhood. Employers pay a contribution for each employee, which is deducted from their salaries. The self-employed must pay full contribution for their coverage.
Employed people’s dependent family members are covered by their insurance. Vulnerable people, such as the unemployed, aged, diabetics, and those on long-term maternity leave, do not need to register with an employer. They are entitled to free treatment without paying contributions.
Private health insurance is widely used, and there is a series of private clinics in the country. Private insurance grants shorter waiting lists than in the public system. The coverage includes a choice of one’s doctor and more comfortable facilities in the hospital. Those who have private coverage are entitled to their own single or double room. Those under state coverage must share a room.
The quality of healthcare in San Marino is high. There is a series of health centres which provide outpatient services. These services include general practice, maternity and child healthcare, dental care, emergency care, and diagnostic services including laboratory and radiology services. The standard of care in health centres is high.
The country has one hospital, called San Marino Hospital, with an emergency room and other services. Despite the high standard of care, there are some medical treatments not available in the country that requires patients to go abroad.
The provision of healthcare in Andorra is extremely good. The Andorran Constitution was implemented in 1993. It established a parliamentary co-principality where the country adopted a new approach to the provision of healthcare services.
Andorra’s healthcare and social security system framework are similar to the system applied in France.
The responsibility for the Andorra health sector comes under the responsibility of several bodies: the General Council, the SAAS (the National Health Service – Servei Andorrà de Atenció Sanitària), the Ministry of Health and Welfare (Ministeri de Salut i Benestar) and the CASS (the Social Security Office – Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social).
Under Andorran healthcare legislation, the General Council must protect the rights of citizens and residents. It also must guarantee equal access to social services and must regulate pharmaceutical products and health care professionals, providers, and services.
The Andorran healthcare system relies on contributions from the population to fund the country’s healthcare services. This includes those who are employed, employers, and pensioners. Workers paid less than the minimum wage are required to make regular contributions. It is voluntary for the unemployed and self-employed workers to make contributions to the social security scheme.
Eight percent of citizens in Andorra are not enrolled with the CASS. Employees need to contribute up to 9% of their salaries, with the employer required to contribute a further 7% to the CASS. New employees working for an Andorran company in the country need to be registered with the CASS.
The private healthcare sector in Andorra predominately consists of prime healthcare providers. General practitioners (GPs) and medical specialists generally attend to both public and private financed patients.
Hospital care in Andorra is provided through one hospital, the Andorran Hospital Centre (CHA). It is state-owned and managed by the SAAS. The CHA provides patients with a range of medical care from basic healthcare services to specialized care.
Malta has a long history of providing publicly funded health care. The first hospital recorded in the country was already functioning by 1372. Today, Malta has both a public healthcare system. It is known as the government healthcare service. Healthcare is free at the point of delivery, and a private healthcare system. Malta has a strong general practitioner-delivered primary care base and the public hospitals provide secondary and tertiary care. The Maltese Ministry of Health advises foreign residents to take out private medical insurance.
Malta’s healthcare is ranked among the best in the world. A World Health Organization (WHO) survey ranked Malta 5th in the world for its standard of medical care.
For Maltese citizens, healthcare services are entirely free at the point of delivery. Malta’s health service is funded by general taxation. There is no obligatory health insurance for Maltese citizens. All workers and employers pay National Insurance contributions on a weekly basis.
National Insurance is additional to income tax and goes to fund welfare services in general (e.g. pensions). It also covers various medically-related social benefits.All residents can access the Maltese National Health system. It works side by side with a thriving private sector. Many Maltese citizens opt for the services of private general practitioners and specialists who work in the primary care setting.
Healthcare in Singapore is mainly under the responsibility of the Singapore Government‘s Ministry of Health. Bloomberg ranked Singapore’s healthcare system as the 1st most efficient in the world in 2014.
Singapore has a non-modified universal healthcare system. The government ensures affordability of healthcare within the public health system. This is done largely through a system of compulsory savings, subsidies, and price controls.
The Ministry of Health believes in ensuring quality and affordable basic medical services for all. At the same time, the Ministry promotes healthy living and preventive health programmes. It also maintains high standards of living, clean water, and hygiene to achieve better health for all.
Singapore has “one of the most successful healthcare systems in the world, in terms of both efficiency in financing and the results achieved in community health outcomes,” according to an analysis by global consulting firm Towers Watson. The government regularly adjusts policies to actively regulate “the supply and prices of healthcare services in the country” in an attempt to keep costs in check.
Patients are free to choose the providers within the government or private healthcare delivery system. They can walk in for a consultation at any private clinic or any government polyclinic. For emergency services, patients can go at any time to the 24-hour Accident & Emergency Departments located in the government hospitals.
Singapore’s medical facilities are among the finest in the world. As of 2012, Singapore had a total of 10,225 doctors in its healthcare delivery system. This gives a doctor to population ratio of [1:52]0. The nurse (including midwives) to population ratio is [1:15]0, with a total of 34,507 nurses. There are 1,645 dentists, which gives a ratio of 1 dentist to 3,230 people.
The Spanish National Health System (SNS) is the agglomeration of public health services that has existed in Spain since it was established through and structured by the Ley General de Sanidad (the “General Health Law”) of 1986.
Management of these services has been progressively transferred to the distinct autonomous communities of Spain. Others continue to be operated by the National Institute of Health Management.
Article 46 of the Ley General de Sanidad establishes the fundamental characteristics of the SNS:
- Extension of services to the entire population.
- Adequate organization to provide comprehensive health care, including promotion of health, prevention of disease, treatment, and rehabilitation.
- Coordination and, as needed, integration of all public health resources into a single system.
- Financing of the obligations derived from this law will be met by resources of public administration, contributions, and fees for the provision of certain services.
- The provision of a comprehensive health care, seeking high standards, properly evaluated and controlled.
Omani nationals have free access to the country’s public health care. Though expatriates typically seek medical care in private sector clinics and hospitals. Generally, the standard of care in the public sector is high for a middle-income country. The country now has very low rate of disease for once common communicable diseases such as measles and typhoid.
The hospitals in Oman generally provide a high quality of health care. Most of the largest and most advanced hospitals and health centres are located in Muscat, such as the Royal Hospital of Oman and the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.
All Omani citizens have free access to universal healthcare. Much of the staff is foreign-born or received training abroad. With more young Omanis completing college, this is beginning to change. In larger cities, especially Muscat, the quality of medical care is high. But you shouldn’t expect the same standards in rural areas.
Medical insurance is frequently offered and paid for by your Omani employer. But some of these employer-sponsored healthcare policies exclude specific private clinics or various medical services, such as mental health issues or dental care. Study your healthcare plan carefully, and either renegotiate the conditions or pay for supplementary insurance out of your own pocket.
If you are looking for a doctor in Oman, try asking your embassy if they know a practitioner who speaks your mother tongue. There are various foreign-born doctors working in Oman, as well as Omani doctors who acquired their medical training abroad. Chances are high that you will at least find someone fluent in English.
The nation of Austria has a two-tier health care system in which virtually all individuals receive publicly funded care. Yet, they also have the option to purchase supplementary private health insurance. Some individuals choose to completely pay for their care privately.
Austria’s health care system was given 9th place by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their mid-2000’s (decade) international ranking.
The city of Vienna has been listed as 1st in quality of living, which includes a variety of social services, by the Mercer Consultants.
Healthcare in Austria is universal for residents of Austria as well as those from other EU countries. Individuals become automatically insured when employed, receiving unemployment benefits, on pensions, or working for the government. Family members who are dependent are also entitled to healthcare up until adulthood, or upon finishing education. Care involving private insurance plans, sometimes referred to as “comfort class” care, can include more flexible visiting hours, occupying a private room, and receiving care from a private doctor.
If you are a tourist or just staying temporarily in Austria coming from a European Union country, you are automatically entitled to free basic health care due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. You need to have the E111-form that is available from your home country’s health insurance authorities. Alternatively, you may be issued with the European Health Insurance Card. The card is in the process of being introduced at different speeds in different countries and is an equivalent replacing the E111-form.
The healthcare system in Japan provides healthcare services. These services include screening examinations, prenatal care, and infectious disease control. The patient accepts responsibility for 30% of these costs while the government pays the remaining 70%. Payment for personal medical services is offered by a universal healthcare insurance system that provides relative equality of access. Fees are set by a government committee.
All residents of Japan are required by law to have health insurance coverage. People without insurance from employers can participate in a national health insurance programme, administered by local governments. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice and cannot be denied coverage. Hospitals, by law, must be run as non-profit and be managed by physicians. For-profit corporations are not allowed to own or operate hospitals. Clinics must be owned and operated by physicians.
People in Japan have the longest life expectancy at birth of those in any country in the world. Life expectancy at birth was 83 years in 2009 (male 79.6 years, female 86.4 years). This was achieved in a fairly short time through a rapid reduction in mortality rates secondary to communicable diseases from the 1950’s to the early 1960’s, followed by a large reduction in stroke mortality rates after the mid-60’s.
Finally, compare what you have read above against the worst rated medical system in this list: Myanmar.
Myanmar transitioned to a civilian government in March 2011. Although the democratic process has accelerated since then, many problems in healthcare still exist.
Since there is a limited overview on the healthcare in Myanmar, this article briefly describes the current states surrounding health services in Myanmar. According to the Census 2014, the population in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar was 51,410,000. The crude birth rate in the previous one year was estimated to be 18.9 per 1,000, giving the annual population growth rate of 0.89% between 2003 and 2014.
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