Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

Disadvantages of the US Health Care System and Comparison With Universal Healthcare Other Countries

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The US healthcare system greatly differs from that of other leading countries. Industrial countries like Canada or Britain are seen as successful with their universal or national healthcare systems which makes health care accessible for all, funded by either the government or the people.

The US healthcare, meanwhile, has a combination of public and private systems like private insurance to help individuals pay for care, while the government has laws and acts in place to support the population, publically. These public versus private systems lead to disparities in care quality, especially in different social and economic groups. A majority of scientists and research shows the US lacks a key aspect of healthcare that separates us from others; unity.

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Lack of a Universal System

The current healthcare system in the US is either described as hybrid of public and private systems or as a fractured system. The fractured definition would mean there is no balance and little regulation of standards or cost across the system. Dr. Kurt C Stange (2009), professor of Health at Case-Western and editor of the Annals of Family Medicine, writes about how much of a problem this fragmentation really is. “This unbalance, this brokenness, is at the root of the more obvious healthcare crises of unsustainable cost increases, poor quality, and inequality. Fragmentation is at the heart of the ineffectiveness of our increasingly frantic efforts to nurture improvement” (Stange, 2009, pp. 100-103).

He accredits the socio economic issues present today to the lack of a universal system. Others blame the fragmentation simply on the need for an update to the system. Reviews to the current laws and acts in place, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), show even with these helpful updates, the US system is still uneffective. (Dzau, McClellan, & McGinnis, 2017, pp.1461-1470) The time is accounting for the problems worsening according to Dzau et al., and current laws and acts by the state are proving ineffective to the solution, and occasionally burdening.

Social Economic & Inequality Care Issues

The ACA proved to be vital in evening socio economic disparities. It gave Medicaid access to low-income earners and had a correlating increase in diversity measured in state populations of states that were most affected by the ACA. The solution had limited because it only provided easier and cheaper healthcare access to who were deemed as low income earners and they still had to pay especially with the providers still showing signs of inequality.

The healthcare was still not free, and the ACA showed near zero improvement in higher-earners, and college graduates. (Griffith, Evans, & Bor, 2017) Griffith et al. (2017), go on to say that though improvements were made, the US’s issues were greater than those of other nations, which a majority of use a universal healthcare system. Reports from Corey Abramson (2015), PhD candidate from UC Berkeley showed research pointing towards perceived discrimination in the system. “9.7% of African Americans, 8.1% of Native Americans and 7.5% of Hipics believed that they would have received better medical care if they were a different race, while only 2.3% of whites reported the same” (Abramson, 2015, pp. 615-621). While the evidence doesn’t point directly to discrimination, it shows there are still issues of race in the system.

Compared to other countries, the US is spending far more money on healthcare, though Americans use “few hospital admissions and physician visits, but are greater users of expensive technologies” (Squires & Anderson, 2015). The difference of a low number of wellness visits compared to a high number of expensive machinery can lead to question if the system is spending the money appropriately.


The US healthcare system is evidently less effective than other systems of developed and industrialized countries. The more effective solution would be converting to a universal system but that would entail a complete teardown and objective analysis, which is incredibly time consuming. Another option, is slowly evaluating all aspects, starting with the perceptually most dire and finding the easiest solution, ideally through law or act reform. The system currently needs improvements to better care for and lessen the cost of American healthcare.

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