NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Like the United States, Europe Wrestles With Health Care

April 2, 2012

The United States has been absorbed by the recent Supreme Court case on the future of health care.  But Americans are not alone.  Several European nations, where universal health care has been the norm for decades, have been waging their own intense debates as they also deal with aging populations and rising costs, says NPR.

  • Britain, for example, passed a new health care measure earlier this month, after more than a year of rancorous debate.
  • The government says the reforms will trim a bloated health care bureaucracy and give doctors more control over health care management.

Britain's health care system is funded through general taxes, and it provides free health services to residents of the United Kingdom.  As in most countries, the issue is cost.  The National Health Service currently costs the United Kingdom more than $158 billion a year.

France is also underwent a bitter fight when it adopted revisions in 2009.

  • The French system is financed by income and payroll taxes, and health insurance is compulsory.
  • The national insurance plan covers about 70 percent of health care costs, and most people use private insurance, obtained through their jobs, to pay the rest.

As in Britain, the French changes were driven by rising costs.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition faced a slump in popularity during the fight that ended with the passage of health care changes in November 2010.

Source: Corey Flintoff, "Like the United States, Europe Wrestles With Health Care," NPR, March 29, 2012.

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