Dr Helen de Cruz on comparing healthcare systems in four different countries — and why is the American system so complicated?

First published in February 2020.

Having lived in 3 countries (Belgium, Netherlands, UK) and now the United States, one thing people who talk to me find fascinating is how many different healthcare systems there are.

Americans are always intrigued at how other countries are solving the problem of providing affordable healthcare.

The Belgian system

Healthcare is a universal right in Belgium. It is written in the Constitution (art 23). Individual health insurance is mandatory but it is cheap. The maximum that anyone has to pay out of their pocket for an approved procedure is 500 euro, so you cannot go broke on medical costs.

The Dutch system

I paid around 120 euros per month for an excellent health coverage through a single payer insurance (not through my employer, but employers can give extra stuff). Children on your plan go free. There is no co-pay going on most visits. I found the level and quality of care excellent.

The British system

Funded through your taxes, it is nationalised in a system called the NHS. I gave birth to my son in Britain, got excellent care, and did not pay one cent. It used to be excellent but alas it started to get under-funded by politicians, who then went on to blame immigrants for its failures.

The American system

Wow, it is complicated. Very complicated. I am still figuring out how it works but my prima facie question is why is it so expensive to fund this?🔷

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 22 February 2020, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Daniel Cuadra. - Protest from Pax South attendees following President Trump's executive order to decrease access to healthcare and a travel ban on 7 Muslim-majority nations. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)