Access to quality health care varies greatly by country. According to the World Health Organization, half of the world's people lack access to the health care they need. To address this shortcoming, many countries implement government-funded universal health care systems, also called universal health coverage, which offer health care to more than 90% of a country's citizens. In addition to providing almost every citizen with health care, universal health care systems are government-regulated, which ensures the care given is high-quality and affordable, so it does not inflict financial hardship on the patient. In most cases, health care through universal health care programs is free or very low cost to all citizens, regardless of their income.
Dozens of countries have some form of universal health care policies in place, but the specific implementation varies greatly from one nation to the next. The U.K. has completely free health care provided through public facilities owned by the government. Germany has a government fund that pays for coverage from private doctors and hospitals. Many countries have a blended public/private system to maximize both access and comprehensiveness. For example, South Korea, whose health care system is often considered the best in the OECD, has a universal health care system that covers up to 60% of all medical expenses—and which 77% of South Koreans supplement with private insurance to cover the remaining expenses.
Brazil is arguably the model for universal health care: Any person in Brazil—from citizens to tourists, refugees, and undocumented immigrants—is eligible to receive free and immediate medical care in whatever form they need, from primary care to surgery to prescription medications, with no previous application or paperwork necessary.
Countries with Universal Health Care:
- Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria
- Bahamas, Belgium, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso
- Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic
- Finland, France
- Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece
- Hong Kong (China SAR)
- Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy
- Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco
- Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway
- Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal
- Romania, Russia, Rwanda
- Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland
- Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey
- United Kingdom