Private or Public: Which is the Best Health Care System?

The difficulty experienced by Republicans in repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act has rekindled interest in changing and improving the U.S. health care system. Some observers would like medical services to be generally funded by private insurance plans, but others support a greater role for the government. An independent study of nearly a dozen health care systems from around the world found that both public and private systems work exceptionally well, provided they are properly designed and funded.
Coming in first place in this survey was the National Health Service (NHS) of Great Britain, a system in which the government employs health care workers and owns the facilities where medical care is rendered. Additionally, the British system was at or near the top in a number of specific categories, including access and equality. The ranking of the NHS would seem in prove the superiority of government-run health care until one noticed that the system used in the Netherlands was ranked near the top and also did well in certain categories. The Dutch system provides coverage through private plans, but insurance companies are closely regulated and are not allowed to discriminate against those who have serious or chronic health problems. More about the ranking of health care systems in other countries is available at
In this same study, the U.S. health care system came in last place. American health care is generally provided through private insurance, although the government provides additional funding through Medicaid and Medicare. This hodgepodge system does not provide the universal coverage available in other countries and, more importantly, is far costlier than the other systems.
Everybody seems to agree that more should be done to reduce the high costs of American medical services. This may come down adopting the best parts of other systems and, in the process, involving both the government and private insurance providers.

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