Germany and the United States are among the wealthiest, most populous, and most highly developed nations in the world. Because of these broad similarities, in can be inferred that these countries might also share struggles regarding healthcare. Aging populations, rising healthcare costs, and heightened expectations of the healthcare system are prevalent issues in both countries (Armstrong, 2014); however, the United States’ healthcare approach is astronomically different to that of Germany.
The United States runs under a free market economy, and personal freedom and individual intuition are valued. Germans strongly follow the principle of solidarity, and operate under a social market economy (Armstrong, 2014). For these philosophical and economical reasons, healthcare outcomes have varied increasingly between the two countries as time has progressed. Overview The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world without a universal healthcare system. Instead, consumers purchase insurance through the private marketplace, or obtain insurance coverage through government aid programs. Major stakeholders in the United States’ healthcare system include patients, physicians, employers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, and the government (Niles, 2015).
Although a large number of Americans are uninsured, 84% are covered by some form of health insurance (Ridic, 2012). While some consumers choose commercial insurance companies, over 60% of health insurance coverage is related to employment; group insurance plans purchased through an employer can result in great cost savings. Additionally, 26% of United States citizens are covered by public health insurance (Ridic, 2012). Medicare and Medicaid are government-funded programs that insure the elderly and disabled, and economically disadvantaged, respectively. Even with private and public health insurance options in place, 16% of the American population remains uninsured (Ridic, 2012). These consumers still have access to healthcare, however.
State and local health programs, public clinics and hospitals provide care to the uninsured. In addition, some private providers are able to provide care through charitable donations, as well as shifting treatment costs to payers who are more financially able. In spite of all this, uninsured Americans still face great financial hardship, and oftentimes do not seek medical care until it is too late, and emergency services are required (Ridic, 2012). The principle of solidarity plays a large role in German health care. It is a firmly held belief that the government should provide a large range of social benefits to its citizens, including medical care, pensions, unemployment insurance, disability payments, maternity benefits, and other forms of social welfare (Ridic, 2012). The country’s healthcare system combines socialized and private health care, all of which is decentralized and closely regulated by the government.
(Armstrong, 2014). Each citizen is required by law to have statutory health insurance, granted that their gross earnings fall beneath a fixed amount. Citizens who earn more may choose to purchase private insurance, but only 10% of German citizens do so (Ridic, 2012). Everyone covered by statutory insurance has the right to receive care. This remains constant despite one’s income and premium levels. Premiums are based on income; rich citizens aid the poor, and healthy people benefit those who are sick.
However, these premiums are only based on a percentage scale up to a certain income level. Anyone earning more than this amount pays the same maximum premium. Funding for healthcare is obtained through premiums paid by insured employees, as well as their employers.
Surpluses from tax revenue also contribute to this funding (Döring, 2010). Major stakeholders in the German healthcare system include patients, government, employers, private insurers, pharmaceutical companies, associations of Statutory Health Insurance physicians, and medical associations (Döring, 2010).ComparisonsGermany and the United States share several issues regarding healthcare; costs are rising, access to care is becoming more difficult, and citizens are expecting more from their country’s healthcare system (Armstrong, 2014). The United States spend a higher percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare than any other developed country, yet falls behind many other countries in terms of improved health outcomes (Stone, 2017).
In 2015, the country spent 17.8% of its GDP on healthcare, which equates to $3.4 trillion (Stone, 2017). Although healthcare costs leveled off between 2007 and 2013, this expense is expected to increase. By 2025, the United States is projected to spend 19.
9% of its GDP on healthcare (Stone, 2017). National healthcare spending is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.7% from 2011 to 2021. This is 0.9% faster than the expected annual increase in GDP during this time (Keenan, 2016). Germany’s cost of healthcare is also increasing, but at a slower rate.
As of 2014, Germany spent 11.3% of its GDP on healthcare (“Health expenditure,” 2014). Access to care and wait times also vary between Germany and the United States. Although a higher percentage of Americans are uninsured and lack access to care, wait times are shorter, due to the country’s privatized healthcare system.
On the other hand, Germany rations care by government provision, resulting in lower expenditure but longer wait times (Ridic, 2012). Even so, Germans are much more satisfied with their health insurance program than their American counterparts. According to a survey, only 10% of respondents felt the United States healthcare system could be remedied with only minors changes, while 41% of Germans felt only small alterations were needed (Blendon, 1990). Although German citizens are generally more content with their healthcare system, changes are still required in both countries.Perhaps the most apparent way to compare the healthcare systems of the United States and Germany is to examine key health indicators. For example, Germany’s life expectancy at birth is currently 80.
5; the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.7. The infant mortality rate per 1,000 births is 3.4, while the United States falls at 6.1 (Niles, 2015). 23.
6% of Germans are obese, while a staggering 35.3% of Americans contribute to the country’s obesity rate (Osborn, 2016). These are just a few indicators suggesting the United States is lagging behind Germany in terms of basic health care.
ConclusionThe United States and Germany are two prosperous countries that share some similarities but have many differences regarding healthcare. The United States spends a much greater amount of its annual GDP on healthcare each year, but rates in Germany have also increased in recent years. Satisfaction rates are also similar to a degree in both countries; Germany and the United States are in need of changes, but Americans are more discontent with their country’s healthcare system.
Finally, the United States is currently falling behind Germany in terms of key health indicators. This especially proves that America is in need of a drastic shift in healthcare delivery. While the United States is one of the most developed countries in the world, it could possibly learn from the healthcare system of Germany to create a more efficient and less expensive healthcare system, while increasing consumer satisfaction.