How Many Countries Have Universal Health Care?

how many countries have universal health care

Reaching universal health coverage (UHC) is one of the world’s greatest challenges, vital not only to individual wellbeing, but also for social cohesion, economic development and environmental sustainability. UHC was one of the guiding principles behind the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Countries take various approaches to providing universal health coverage (UHC), with most offering free or affordable healthcare to their citizens. Some nations employ single-payer systems akin to America’s where all insurance comes from a government-run collective fund and there are no out-of-pocket expenses; such is the case in Britain’s National Health Service.

Other countries also utilize national health insurance or multi-payer systems, such as South Korea where all legal residents are automatically enrolled into its national healthcare program and incur only modest copays for medical services. Japan utilizes similar policies: its public insurance offers free doctor visits and tests; however, specialty visits or prescription medication require copayments.

Some countries utilize hybrid public/private health systems, where patients pay most of their healthcare costs through taxes or private health insurance; however, government bodies manage and provide essential parts such as hospitals. Such hybrid systems exist in Cambodia, Chad and Nigeria among others.

Other countries use a hybrid model, where government directly manages healthcare providers while contracting management out to private companies. This system can be found in Europe like Germany, France and Switzerland while Latin American nations and Canada and Taiwan also utilize this form of universal health coverage (UHC).

Israel stands out as an excellent example of universal health coverage (UHC), where government regulates all aspects of health services – either using a hybrid public-private model or fully public one. Based on Israel’s National Health Insurance Law from 1995, Universal Healthcare Coverage has helped citizens reduce costs through reduced private healthcare providers while simultaneously cutting administrative expenses for doctors and other practitioners in health services.

No matter the number of countries offering universal health coverage, work still needs to be done. According to an OECD and international organizations report issued earlier this year, without significant investment the world could see 5 billion people denied essential healthcare services by 2030.

UHC advocates around the globe are advocating for stronger and smarter investments to refocus our progress toward UHC. Each year, on 12 December we mark International Universal Health Coverage Day as a day to spread awareness of the necessity of strong health systems; celebrate what has already been accomplished so far; and encourage diverse groups to make commitments towards reaching UHC by 2030.

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