A Comparison between the United States and Switzerland Healthcare Systems

Both critics and supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) agree on one thing; that it is similar to healthcare law known as Switzerland’s Federal Law on Health Insurance (LAMal). However, a critical analysis of these two healthcare systems has distinct differences that are fundamental and many observers state that some of these differences make the Switzerland model superior to that of the United States. 

Healthcare Access for Children, the Unemployed and the Retired

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Over the last couple of years, successive governments have changed the United States healthcare system repeatedly by introducing or deleting provisions and this has affected the way children, unemployed, and the retired access healthcare services. The government has provided about $5 billion dollars to provide for retirees who are many in the country considering the fact that the retiring age in the country is pegged at 55 years of age (HealthCare, 2018). The act also caters for the retirees’ children and spouses. In Switzerland, the act ensures that not only retirees but also children and the unemployed are catered for at all times. All the people in Switzerland are required to pay for their own medical plans and the unemployed and retirees are encouraged to save and pay for their plans because their savings are not taxed. This encourages people to save a lot and this is how everyone is able to pay a small part of their savings on health policy. As compared to the United States, retirees in Switzerland receive a higher percentage of their previous salaries through a pension plan that sees average retirees earning an average sum of $1,750 each month.

Medical Coverage between the U.S. and Switzerland

In America, only about 10% of the population is capable of accessing or affording their own insurance policy while the rest rely on their employers. This is not the case in Switzerland where individuals are mandated by the law to purchase their insurance coverage. Individuals approach insurance firms, negotiate the terms, and then purchase the cover. This eliminates intermediaries hence the cost of these covers is relatively low. It is estimated that no citizen spends more than 10% of their salary on medical covers. The government in Switzerland has also introduced a program that aims at controlling prices at hospitals in a bid to curb discrimination against some people within the society (HealthCare, 2018). For example, insurance firms are obligated to charge similar amounts for similar services irrespective of the customer. Additionally, people with preexisting medical conditions and the old should not be charged expensively than the young and people without preexisting conditions. 

Requirements to Getting Referral

In the United States, patients need referrals from their insurance firms before they are allowed to see specialized doctors. Failure to get a referral would see the insurance firm fail to pay for the incurred medical bill. In Switzerland, patients do not require any kind of referral from anyone. Patients are free to go to any hospital and receive any medical care they may need and the insurance firm will be obligated to settle the medical bill incurred. 

Coverage for Preexisting Conditions

Concerning preexisting medical conditions, both Switzerland and the American system are similar in that the insurance firms are not allowed to discriminate against people with preexisting medical conditions such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS (HealthCare, 2018). People with preexisting conditions should not be charged an extra amount of money when they are seeking medical covers from insurance firms. 

Financial Implications Affecting Patients

A comparison of how these systems are affecting their nations’ economies, the American system is more detrimental to the country’s economy as compared to the Switzerland system. The United States has been spending an average of USD $10,500 each year per person and this translates into almost 20 percent of the country’s GDP. On the other hand, Switzerland uses about USD $1,500 per person each year and this is a very good amount of money because it does not put much strain on the country’s economy. The main reason why the United States uses so much money in its program is that the system is characterized by intermediaries and people are not required to pay for their own medical plans

Conclusion

From the above discussion, one can conclude that Switzerland has a better healthcare system when compared to what the United States offers its citizens. The United States system has so many conditions that are detrimental to the citizens in that it has many barriers that make it hard for patients to access quality medical care from hospitals. Barriers such as required referrals and the fact that many people do not have medical covers make it hard for the citizens have access to good medical care in the country (Chin, Jones, Ameratunga, & Derrett, 2018). In Switzerland, these conditions are not there and once an individual has bought their medical cover, they can attend any hospital they want and they can receive any medical service they wish without being required to pay for it or even referral from any person or institution. 

References

Chin, M., Jones, R., Ameratunga, S., & Derrett, S. (2018). Lessons for achieving health equity comparing Aotearoa/New Zealand and The United States. Health Policy, 122(8), 837–853. DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2018.05.001.

HealthCare. (2018). Referral Requirements in the United States — HealthCare.gov. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2QwVdEO

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