A Comparison of the Healthcare Systems in Japan and the US example

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A Comparison of the Healthcare Systems in Japan and the US

Healthcare is a fundamental function in any government. However, a complex mix of interventions needs to be put in place in order to deliver affordable health services of appropriate quality. Healthcare systems differ from country to country depending on prevailing related legal and regulatory mechanisms. To illustrate this, this essay compares and contrasts healthcare systems in Japan and the US.

Japan has a national health strategy, known as the Medical Care Plan, which seeks to provide appropriate and high quality medical care in the country, and upon which prefectural medical care plans are based. The Medical Care Act, 1948 offers the basic legal, institutional and policy framework governing healthcare in Japan. This legislation ensured that Japan attained universal healthcare by 1961 (WHO and Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan, 2012). Under universal healthcare, all Japanese and/or residents are covered. This is achieved through compulsory, not-for-profit health insurance schemes which are either employment-related or municipally-based. In addition, elderly people, over 75 years, are covered under a separate special insurance scheme (Fukawa, 2012).

Patients are free to choose health service providers, who are reimbursed by the government/employers at a negotiated uniform rate. There is also a government capping on medical costs, which makes Japanese healthcare one of the most affordable. This could account for the high levels of satisfaction reported in Japanese healthcare. Furthermore, Japan focuses more on preventive healthcare (NIPSSR, 2014). Overall, Japan has been described as having one of the word’s healthiest people, presumably due to her high quality and affordable healthcare policy her people.

The most notable difference between the Japanese and US healthcare systems is that Japan has a universal socialized healthcare. Healthcare is financed through a public health insurance scheme (PHIS) in which the government (federal and local) is mandated by law to provide good-quality and affordable care (The Commonwealth Fund, 2016). This provides medical care not only for Japanese citizens, but also residents who can enlist as enrollees in the system. In fact, as Ridic, Gleason and Ridic (2012) suggest, medical care in Japan is a fundamental right. Unlike in Japan, US healthcare is run by a combination of private and publicly sanctioned organizations; with no universal public health insurance.

Other than universal care, another key difference regards the cost of helthcare. While Japan boasts of one of the cheapest medical services outside the West, the US has the most expensive healthcare. The US Insurance Agents (2016) estimated that average annual spending on healthcare in the US is $8000 per capita, as opposed to an average of about $3000 in OECD countries. This certainly has adverse impacts on average US citizens and residents not covered by the existing insurance schemes.

In spite of the above differences, there are marked similarities between the two healthcare systems. Firstly, analysts agree that the two countries offer very high quality medical care. In the US, the quality of care is mainly driven by advances in medical research and pharmaceutical innovations as well …

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