Countries With Free Healthcare
Healthcare cuts across various practices including the maintenance or improvement of health using methods like prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as the amelioration, or cure of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairment in people. Since healthcare deals with the physical and mental state of people, it is, therefore, a no-brainer as to why the health sector is one of the most funded sectors in every country. Governments of the countries of the world spend more money on the Health sector than any other sector. This is to ensure that citizens can access healthcare at a subsidized rate. To ensure that healthcare is readily accessible, the government of some countries of the world is the major funder of the healthcare sector.
In this article, we discuss countries with free healthcare.
The healthcare sector in Australia is primarily funded by Medicare, a regionally administered universal public health insurance program that is financed through general tax revenue and a government levy. Therefore, Australian citizens and most permanent residents as well as some overseas visitors access healthcare within the public health system for free. Citizens who prefer to patronize private health systems will have the cost of treatment covered by a combination of Medicare, private health insurance, and personal payment.
Although healthcare in Australia costs little to nothing, the country still has one of the best healthcare sectors in the world. This is because the healthcare sector doesn’t just cater to only the sick. The Australian government is very particular about disease prevention and health management. This is to prevent a situation where emergency departments and public hospitals get overrun.
The German government has over time proven that it is committed to ensuring that an average citizen lives a quality life. This has been achieved by providing vital needs like education and healthcare at little or no cost.
Germany has a universal multi-payer healthcare system that comprises both statutory health insurance and private health care. While statutory health insurance caters to the healthcare needs of people who earn less than a certain salary, private health insurance caters to the health needs of people who earn more and choose to fund their own.
Although the healthcare system in Germany is a dual public-private system, healthcare in the country is funded by statutory contributions and consequently, healthcare is free for all citizens and residents. Non-residents need to have private insurance while temporary visitors will need to pay for treatment. European Union, European Economic Area, or Switzerland citizens staying temporarily may use the EHIC card and take out German health insurance upon becoming official residents.
Germany is reputed to be one of the biggest spenders on healthcare in Europe. Spending about 11.1% of its annual GDP on healthcare, only Switzerland and France spend more in terms of GDP percentage. However, everyone has to pay a fee of around €10-15 for their first medical visit every quarter. This fee doesn’t apply to those who didn’t seek any medical care during that quarter.
Switzerland’s universal healthcare is a combination of public, subsidized private, and private healthcare systems. The highly decentralized system is funded through enrollee premiums, taxes (mostly cantonal), social insurance contributions, and out-of-pocket payments.
Although there are no free state-provided health services, taking out private health insurance which is compulsory for all persons residing in Switzerland within three months of taking up residency or being born in the country enables citizens to access healthcare services at a subsidized rate. The insurance which covers the costs of medical treatment and hospitalization is paid partly by the insured. The payment can either be made using an annual deduction ranging from a minimum of CHF 300 to a maximum of CHF 2,500 which is an equivalent of 184 and 1,534 US$ respectively. The payment can also be made by a charge of 10% of the costs over and above the excess up to a stop-loss amount of CHF 700 which is around $429.
The Swedish healthcare system which is mainly government-funded is a decentralized universal healthcare system comprising both public and private healthcare providers. In compliance with the Health and Medical Services Act, Sweden’s healthcare covers all legal residents. Emergency coverage is available for citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area countries, and nine other countries with which Sweden has bilateral agreements.
Although healthcare in Sweden is not free per se, it is not expensive as it is largely tax-funded. Although the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs dictates health policy and budgets, the 21 regional councils finance health expenditure through tax funding while the 290 municipalities are responsible for taking care of individuals with disabilities and the elderly.
The Canadian healthcare system is a decentralized, universal, publicly funded health system known as the Canadian Medicare. The healthcare which is publicly funded is delivered through the country’s 13 provinces and territories, each with its insurance plan and receiving cash assistance from the federal government on a per capita basis.
Although Canada makes it to the list of countries with free healthcare, healthcare is not entirely free but comes at a reasonable cost and this is because Canadians pay for their healthcare through taxes. Canadian Medicare provides coverage for circa 70% of Canadians’ healthcare needs whilst what is left is paid for through the private sector.
The Healthcare System in the U.K. is a state-funded system called the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that all English residents access public healthcare at no cost. Impliedly, everything from ambulance rides and emergency room visits to long hospital stays, complex surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy along with tons of other healthcare services are all free. This “free” healthcare is paid for through payroll taxes which are primarily generated through general taxation.
France’s healthcare system offers universal coverage for all citizens irrespective of age or economic situation. The healthcare system is a blend of public and private services. The cost of healthcare is covered by both the state and through patient contributions. This is referred to as co-payment.
France’s “free” healthcare system is viable because residents take out mandatory health insurance contributions with optional private insurance available for people who want additional coverage. However, over 75% of health expenditures are covered by the government.
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