Why is health insurance important?
In general, having health insurance is important for several reasons. Uninsured people receive less medical care and less timely care by the medical personnel, they have worse health outcomes, and lack of insurance is a fiscal burden for them and their families (can protect you from the risk of uncertain bills for health care – some services may cost you a fortune). Moreover, the benefits of expanding health coverage outweigh the costs for added services, so you may afford some expensive ones. Safety-net care from hospitals and clinics improves access to care but does not fully substitute for health insurance. In the end, the additional money provided by health insurance when you are sick may be more valuable to you than money when you are well.
Average Health Insurance Prices by Country
Determining the average health assurance cost and healthcare costs in general is a bit misleading in the fact that health assurance is provided differently in different countries. In countries like England and Canada, taxes are assessed to fund their respective national health care programs. It would be more accurate to discuss the average cost of healthcare in different countries as a basis of comparison. A more general discussion can be had regarding the different types of health insurance offerings, by country.
Health Insurance in United States
In the United States, the average health insurance cost per month is $440 for individuals and $1,100 for families, or $5,280 and $13,200 respectively per year. Much of this cost is offset by employers through an employer-sponsored group health insurance plan. The majority of the health insurance provided in the United States is through employer-sponsored plans. National health spending in the United States represents nearly 18% of the gross domestic product (GDP) at $2.5 trillion dollars. This number is expected to grow to $4.4 trillion by the year 2018.
Health Insurance in Canada
Canada’s national health insurance program, which is similar to Medicare, accounts for 10.1 % of the Canadian GDP. Health care spending in Canada is 8 percentage points lower than the United States. Total spending on a per capita basis is $3,895, or approximately $3,400 less than the United States. 70% of health spending in Canada is funded by the public sector, which is similar to the United Kingdom.
Health Insurance in Germany
76.9% of German health care costs are funded by the public sector. Germany uses sickness plans that are funded by employer-employee contributions. Healthcare providers do not work for profit like they do in the United States and every German citizen is covered under the plan, which is known as the Bismarck Model. Per capita spending is $3,588 and health care spending represents 10.4% of GDP.
Health Insurance in France
The French spend 11% of their GDP on health care costs. The amount per capita spending on health care in France is $3,601. To counter the rise in health-care costs, the government has installed two plans, (in 2004 and 2006), which require insured people to declare a referring doctor in order to be fully reimbursed for specialist visits, and which installed a mandatory co-pay of 1 € (about $1.45) for a doctor visit, 0,50 € (about 80¢) for each box of medicine prescribed, and a fee of 16-18 € ($20–25) per day for hospital stays and for expensive procedures. An important element of the French insurance system is solidarity: the more ill a person becomes, the less the person pays. This means that for people with serious or chronic illnesses, the insurance system reimburses them 100% of expenses, and waives their co-pay charges. Finally, for fees that the mandatory system does not cover, there is a large range of private complementary insurance plans available. The market for these programs is very competitive, and often subsidised by the employer, which means that premiums are usually modest. 85% of French people benefit from complementary private health insurance.
Health Insurance in Mexico
The Mexican government spends 5.9% of their GDP on heath care expenditures for its residents. This number is 3 percentage points lower than the average GDP expenditure of all countries providing health care for its citizens. Per capita spending in Mexico is $824, versus $7,290 in the United States. Mexico uses a combination of employer-sponsored plans and government supported health insurance. 45% of health spending is supported by public sources. This amount is the same as in the United States, although spending in the United States supports Medicare and Medicaid.
Health Insurance in United Kingdom
The average health spending as a percent of GDP is 8.4%. Spending in the United Kingdom on a per capita basis is $2,992, versus $7,290 in the United States. England, Wales and Scotland, which make up the United Kingdom, funds 82% of its health care with public dollars, under its National Health Service. This funding mechanism, which is true of most every country except the U.S. and Mexico, means that every United Kingdom citizen has access to healthcare.
The four countries of the United Kingdom have separate but co-operating public health care systems that were created in 1948: in England the public health system is known as the National Health Service, in Scotland it is known as NHS Scotland, in Wales as NHS Wales (GIG Cymru), and in Northern Ireland it is called Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. All four provide state-paid healthcare to all UK residents, paid for from general taxation.
The main difference between the four public health care systems is the patient cost for prescriptions. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have recently abolished, or are in the process of abolishing, all prescription charges, while England (with the exception of birth control pills, which are paid for by the state) continues to charge patients who are between 16 and 60 years old a fixed prescription fee of £7.40 per item, unless they are exempt because of certain medical conditions (including cancer) or are on low income.