The United States’ health care system is a patchwork of private care, Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for some of the poor, and emergency-only care for the 47M uninsured. Both presidential candidates insist that change is needed, with increased coverage and decreased costs as primary goals. Neither candidate mentions how public dollars will be rationed, though government resources are limited.
Here’s a list of a range of health care systems in place around the world, with the most market-oriented systems listed first, and the most government controlled systems listed last. The future of American health care will mostly take the form of one of the middle options, as both extremes appear politically unpalatable.
US Health Care System Choices:
|Health Care System||Description||Found Where|
|Traditional Free Market||Little government intervention, patients pay health care providers directly. Those without financial means rely on charity hospitals or receive no care.||India, many developing countries|
|Public Senior Care + Semi-Free Market||The government provides health care for seniors, while others rely on a regulated private health insurance market (whether purchased individually or through an employer).||United States|
|Public Care for Children and Seniors||The government provides health care for seniors and children, while others rely primarily on the private health insurance market (whether purchased individually or through an employer).||Barack Obama’s health care plan approximates this|
|Mandatory Health Insurance||The government requires that all individuals purchase health insurance, and provides subsidies to assist the poor and unhealthy in purchasing coverage.||Massachusetts, Hillary Clinton’s Plan|
|Dual Public-Private System||The government provides health care for all residents not enrolled in private care, and provides incentives for employers to provide health care and for individuals to purchase care. Individuals may also pay extra to supplement their basic government plan.||Australia|
|Single Payer, Private Premium Care||The government provides health care for all residents, and individuals can choose to pay extra for premium health care services (like private rooms, experimental treatments, etc).||France, other European countries|
|Single Payer Only||The government pays for all health care, and does not allow private market health care transactions.||Canada|