The US health care system is totally different from UK health care. Question such as; who is responsible for health care payment?, what is the role of the patient in health care?, which stakeholders affect and are affected by health care and what are the most important features in health care will solicit different responses from the US and UK. This essay will focus on the fundamentals of the US health care system with specific emphasis on the latter mentioned questions. (Shlaes, 2000)

Rationale for choosing the country

The country chosen for analysis is the United States. This country runs one of the most successful health care systems in the world. This is because their hospital waiting lists are not as high as they are in the UK and other similar countries. Health care services in the US are moderately successful owing to the fact medical technology is highly available and it is of very high standards. Besides that, the country gives equal treatment to various types of medical personnel – even the unconventional practitioners such as chiropractors and naturopaths – this goes a long way in encouraging innovation and higher quality. Lastly, the US health care system has mechanisms for regulating increasing cost of health care provision. The overall effect of al the latter mentioned qualities is that the quality of the US health care system is above most other developed countries. It is therefore necessary to understand what the reasons behind this success are and possible recommendations made.

The US has also been chosen for analysis owing to the fact that their health care system is one of the most discussed and regulated systems in the world. Almost all political and economic stakeholders have an opinion about their current health care system. It is therefore necessary to understand what the debate is all about and whether these regulations have been instrumental in determining the overall success of the health care model. (Buckman, 2007)

Lastly, the US is one of the most influential countries in the world. Their per capita expenditures in almost all types of resources exceed other developed nations of the world. The country has a vast amount of human resources, technology and ample services. It is therefore necessary to understand how their government is tackling such a demanding consumer market in the health care system. This will be very instrumental in mending our own health care systems in the United Kingdom. It will also allow one to pinpoint the defects in their health care provision so as to avoid such problems within this country.

How information was obtained

Information for the essay was mostly obtained through health care journals, analytical books and federal government reports on the US health care system. All the latter sources are secondary. This method of data collection is very advantageous when tackling issues such as national health care systems. The topic is very vast and it affects the entire nation, consequently, getting direct information from patients or practitioners may not be feasible. Besides that, the use of these secondary analysis allows for fast and efficient work. This is because it only encompasses doing an analysis of available data rather than going through the data collection process. On top of that, secondary sources minimise errors in data collection owing to the fact that one is not relying on only one source for their information. The essay is a combination of a number of primary researches done by totally unrelated people. This also minimises bias.

Analysis of the health care system

The US health care system in the United States is not offered under a national health service like it is in the UK, instead health care costs are met by consumer’s employers through health insurance schemes. Here, their employers accommodate one’s health care costs, however, their employers are not taxed on any health related costs. Consequently, the cost of offering health insurance cover by employers is estimated directly without having to incorporate federal or state taxes. (Hole, 1999)

It should be noted, however, those individuals who cannot access employer-based health insurance are required to pay their own insurance. The major category of patients here include the self-employed, part time workers, students and unemployed people. These individuals are not liable to receive the tax free incentives that their employer based counterparts receive. Actually, this issue has solicited a lot of debate about the unfairness of the US health care system. In that country, the self employed workers are only liable to a percentage of tax incentives. For instance, those with families may receive only up to twenty five percent tax reduction. This means that in addition to paying health insurance itself, such workers have to pay taxes as well. Additionally, it possible to find that such workers are required to pay social security taxes and other types of taxes. (Stuart, 2006)

Analysts in the US have asserted that this could be the reason why there are certain differences between the various tax groups when it comes to health care systems. For instance, if an individual is employed and pays for health insurance costs surmounting 8000 dollars annually would have to earn only 11, 000 dollars whereas an individual who is self employed and receives twenty five percent tax deductions would have to earn close to 15, 000 dollars in order to cover those similar health costs. Consequently, undue burden is placed on the unconventional types of health care recipients. This has bought about a lot of inequity in health. Surveys indicate that chances of getting an uninsured non-employer-based patient are twenty times as high as getting an uninsured employer-based worker. It happens that the largest percentage of these uninsured individuals happen to be minority groups and the poor. The people who need health insurance the most are the one’s who miss out while the affluent members of society; who happen to be employer based get tax breaks and incentives. (Goodman, 2005)

Another major problem with the US health care system with regard to insurance is the effect it has on plummeting costs of health.  The average health care consumer in the United States has little or no say in the kind of costs that health care providers charge. Survey conducted in 2005 found that seventy six percent of health care consumers in the United States do not pay for their own health care. This means that even if a patient is overcharged by a certain practitioner, they do not have the stakes to question those rising costs. This leaves the question of costs at the hands of health care providers who tend to increase costs. Many consumers in the US are usually concerned about the amount and quality of service rather than on the rate of change of costs.

Despite these seeming disadvantages. There are other pros associated with the US health care system. One of them is the fact that the health care system encourages individual responsibility. Even those individuals who can purchase health insurance but choose not to are allowed to go about their own businesses without any sort of interference from the government. Another advantage is the fact that this system has its own way of regulating prices. Those individuals who are not medically insurable are not forced under a scheme that would only hurt them further. Besides this, the American system of health care payment has a way of balancing out the economy. This is because taxes paid by health care recipients are within limits. The government is not funding such a system, consequently, there is little need for them to over tax individuals in other areas of the economy just so that they can meet health care costs. Corporate income taxes within that country are currently bearable. (Rublee, 2004)

Additionally, this method of health care leaves room for other needy groups that would otherwise have been ignored in a government funded system. Services are sufficient for the elderly and other groups that may not be deemed as medical emergencies. This is especially so owing to the fact that the number of patient waiting lists are very low. Taking the example of the UK, the number of patients on waiting lists for surgical procedures in the year 2000 were eight hundred thousand. Nevertheless, in the United States; where the health care system is individual based (not run by the government) the waiting lists are much lower there. This goes to show that the level of efficiency in such a system is quite high.

Work skills for a job in US versus a job in the UK

The job under consideration is that of general practitioner. This a doctor who deals with family or primary medical care. In the US, such practitioners are expected to do an undergraduate degree in family medicine. Thereafter, they are to do a Doctor of Medicine degree. This doctor must do residency in family medicine and then follow this up with certification from the American Board of family Medicine. (Pisacano, 2007)

In the UK however, doctors are required to do foundation training for two years. Here, time is divided between general surgery and also general medicine. Thereafter, doctors are required to do Vocational training in general practice. A trainee is supposed to do training in a specific specialty for half a year. Lastly, doctors are expected to complete one year as registrars in general practice.

The United Kingdom does not require certification from any medicine board. The need for an external body in assessment is extremely important in assuring the level of quality because it acts as a countermeasure. The UK should consider this aspect.


The United States health care system represents an opposite approach to the UK system. The UK ought to consider some of the features in their heath care systems so that the heath care system can improve. If this is done, then the UK health care system could see declining cases of patient lists, better technological changes and also a more controlled or regulated pricing system. The major disadvantage behind the US health care system is that it encourages inequity by funding affluent citizens and leaving out the poor. (Bast et al, 2003)


Shlaes, A (2000): Market Tests UK’s Health System; 27th January, Wall Street Journal

Rublee, D. (2004): Medical Technology in, Germany, the United States and Canada; Journal for Health Affairs, 12, 4, 79

Goodman, J (2005): Wrong Prescription for the Uninsured; 13th June, Wall Street Journal

Hole, J (1999): A Proposal for Health Care Reform; Jackson Hole Group Report, 3rd June, No.18

Bast, J. et al (2003): Why We Spend Too Much on Health Care: Journal for Heartland Institute, 13, 2, p. 57

Pisacano, N. (2007): History of the Specialty; Report by American Board of Family Medicine, No. 8, 16th May

Buckman, L. (2007): Government dumbing down general practice; BMJ Publishers, p 45

Stuart, B. (2006): Using Credits in Tax to Create an Affordable Health System; Heritage Foundation Report, pp. 6-7, 20th July