Health Care Systems in other Countries I have been wondering why we hear about the universal health care systems in Canada and Great Britain and not about any of the other industrialized countries. When I read a review of T. R. Reids book The Healing of America: a Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care, I decided to look there for an answer. I found it. Every industrialized country except the United States has decided that basic health care is a human right. Every one has some form of universal health care. Every one spends less on health care than we do. Not one uses for-profit insurance companies to pay for basic health care. The for-profit companies do exist and offer plans for non-basic services, such as private rooms or cosmetic surgery. We have been hammered with stories of waiting lines in Canada and Great Britain to scare us away from the two conclusions that every other developed country has come to: 1) Every citizen should have basic health care, and 2) For-profit health insurance companies contribute to the cost of health care. There are many variations in health care systems, but none except Canada and Great Britain result in waiting for care. In Japan people get in to see their doctors so quickly they usually dont even make appointments. Doctors are self-employed. Employers (automobile companies too) pay a large portion of the premiums for health insurance and may even maintain hospitals for their employees. In France citizens carry Health ID cards with computer chips that keep a record of their health histories and treatments. When a patient visits the doctor, he inserts the patients card into his reader to see the history of disease and treatment, then adds his own notes. The patients health insurance information is also on the card, so the doctor sends the claim directly to the insurance company and is paid in less than a week. There is no hassle because the standard fees are nationally established. There are no patient files or billing clerks in the doctors offices. In most other countries people have a choice of insurance companies, but the big difference is that the insurance companies covering basic health care are non-profits. Switzerland started out with non-profits, then saw how much money American companies were making and switched to for-profit. When the Swiss government saw health care costs rising, they did away with for-profit health insurance for basic care. Even here in the United States Blue Cross Blue Shield started out as a non-profit. There seem to be three common threads running through the health care systems of all the countries that have universal health care. The first is that their citizens have decided it is wrong to deny health care to some people. The second is that, even though most physicians and hospitals operate privately, everyone follows the same national standards. The third is that for-profit health insurance companies do not cover basic care. All of the countries pay substantially less for health care than the United States and do not have their citizens filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills. No country has the perfect health care system. Every country is constantly trying to improve. But even though Canada, Great Britain, and the others see flaws in their systems, they would not trade them for ours.