The United Kingdom (UK) health care system is ranked among the best in the world with a universal coverage of all citizens. The public health care sector is under the National Health Service which caters for all areas such as inpatient and outpatient, dental care, rehabilitation and mental health care. The model functions under a cost-sharing formula with most costs footed by the central government (Hannigan& Allen, 2006)
History of Health Care in United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Up until mid 20th century, health care in the United Kingdom was a reserve for the rich.
The poor could only access free medical care offered by charities or services rendered by teaching hospitals. A national Insurance Act enacted in 1911 attempted to reform the healthcare sector but it only benefited the employed since it involved a deduction of their salaries and the accrued amount used to provide free medical care to them. In 1946, the government founded the National Health Service to be in charge of the public healthcare. The reforms that followed the Second World War were aimed at provision of free services to all citizens with the funding coming from the central government(Greener,2009).
The healthcare services were divided into three branches for simplified management. These were the hospital services, community services and the primary care. The organization however became chaotic and difficult to coordinate and in 1974, the three services were merged and put under the control of the local authorities. Reforms continued in the latter years and modified restructuring was carried out which saw the National Health Service and Community Care Act enacted in 1990.This put the hospital care under management of independent trusts. Reforms have continued in the health care sector with the most remarkable being the formation of National Health Service Direct that was aimed at raising the medical care standards, reducing cost and waiting times (Greener,2009).
In the United States of America (U.S.), the clamor for affordable, quality healthcare began in the late 1800s; however until 1920, patients were treated from homes and only a few employers provided their employees with health insurance. With continued use of modern technology, more patients preferred the hospitals which in turn made services expensive. The entry of more insurance firms providing medical covers led to improved health care but the poor and the elderly continued to suffer. To cater for this group, the government developed a legislation-Medicare and Medicaid, a program to provide medical services. The government’s expenditure shot up due to the large number of people under the program such that by 2001, the program accounted for 32% of the healthcare allocation. The cost of medical care has continued to rise in the U.S. since 1960s due to use of costly modern technology in hospitals, private insurance by large employers, rise in medical cost and competition among health providers. The Affordable Care Act of 2011 was aimed at insuring the poor and unemployed against the high cost of healthcare (Shi & Singh, 2012).
Characteristics of the consumers, providers, payers, and regulation policies in U.K. and U.S. health care systems. The patients in UK make a co-payment for the services except for children under sixteen, the elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers and those with disabilities. The low income earners are also provided with transport to the medical facilities. The hospitals are in charge of all health matters but of late some trusts have been given semi-autonomy in providing healthcare services. The government’s major role in healthcare is legislation and policy making. Among the latest policies include allowing the patients to attend hospitals of their choice. The citizens may also acquire private insurance covers which cater for their medical expenses both in private and public hospitals (Cooke, Mathers & Mitchell, 2007).
The quality of healthcare is a major priority of the government and in 2007, the government developed strategies to enhance provision of high quality and safe medical and social care services. The quality of these services is under close watch by regulatory bodies which make regular assessments of both private and public facilities, address patients ‘complaints as well as making recommendations on the most appropriate services(Cooke, Mathers & Mitchell, 2007).
In the United States of America, the quality of healthcare is still a major concern to individuals, and society. The policy makers have been for a long time looking for the best strategies to make quality healthcare affordable, since the unemployed and low income earners are unable to pay for it. Competition among the providers has contributed to this trend too (Torrens, 1998) The impact of high cost on the taxpayers and consumers has forced the government to intervene culminating in the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2011
The United Kingdom employs a universal health care system in which the government is actively involved in delivery of medical services to all citizens without discrimination. This is achieved through legislation and taxation. On the contrary, U.S. has a non-universal system. Of late; however the government has attempted to borrow the UK model, through enactment of the Affordable Care Act (Niles, N.J. 2011).
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