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Runninghead: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE IN SWITZERLAND 1

UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE IN SWITZERLAND 12

Universal health care in Switzerland

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Universal health care in Switzerland

1. Select a country that has universal health care system provided by that country and provide some background information on this country.

Universal Health Care in Switzerland

The term Universal Health Care gained popularity in the 1990s, especially in the United States of America and the European Union. It is used to mean a situation in which each and every legal citizen of a particular geographical area is covered for basic healthcare services, and without discrimination (Sherrow, 2009). Universal health care is therefore a health system where the citizens of a country are provided for and with financial coverage for health needs and enhanced access to health services to the citizens. The health care provided in this case revolves around the amount of total expenses catered for, the services given to the concerned and the type of person being provided for and with the health coverage. The process of providing the universal health care differs with countries, but the general concept is that the government has the highest role to play, while the private sector as well as other organizations also contributes towards the achievement of the services (Sherrow, 2009).

Although the world seems to be moving forward towards the achievement of health care services to all, the pace is still lagging, and especially due to social and political factors. It is therefore quite arguable that the achievement of a universal health care system is not easily achievable with the current measures.

Many universal health care systems in the world were introduced after the world war two with the objective of reforming health care in different countries. This was implemented and was aimed at making health care services to as many people as possible in the respective countries where it was introduced. Funding for a majority of health care systems in the world is done jointly by both the government and through public agencies. Taxes are key source of funding in many parts of the world. Common characteristic for many health care systems in the world are; financing based on revenue collected from taxation, compulsory financing to all the citizens of a country, social health insurance, and private insurance services.

Though the health care system in the U. S was approved by the Supreme Court, it has received a lot of criticism that it doesn’t offer universal coverage for its citizens. Switzerland is the one country that offers a very distinct and universal health care system and coverage in the world. Its health care services are unique and recognized all over Europe and health care in Switzerland is given the first priority even when it comes to matters of politics.

Insurance reforms in Switzerland back date to 1994 when a referendum was conducted to reform the insurance policy where the vote succeeded and the reforms in health insurance were implemented. Another referendum to reform and improve the health care system in Switzerland was conducted in the year 2009 where private insurers were required to offer compulsory medicines in treatment of patients. Health care reforms in Switzerland have experienced serious hurdles in the early 1970’s when health care reform agendas were occasionally defeated when referendums were held.

Health care has had a trail of success in the last few years especially in the year 2012 when the Swiss government formulated a program that aimed at the expansion of Managed Care throughout Switzerland. This proposal was aimed at enhancing control over the rising cost of health care services and improves the networks between health providers. However, this plan was dealt a blow since a high number of Swiss citizens voted against the program in a referendum. This program was not highly accepted and appreciated since it was believed that it could not reduce the costs of health care and it would worse still compromise the quality of health care in the country.

Switzerland spends an approximate ten percent of its total GDP on health provision. This has translated to good and high quality facilities for health care where the country uses high tech equipment’s in provision of health services. The country also has a high number of highly trained medical practitioners and nurses. Therefore, the number of patients attended to by a single practitioner is relatively low compared to many other countries of the world.

2. Compare the common features of that health care model to the health care system of the U.S.

In the United States of America, the health care system is successful in one way; that citizens can afford to pay for a subsidized health care, but the goal of achieving a universal healthcare system is far away from being achieved (Bardes, Shelley & Schmidt, 2008). This is so despite the fact that the nation is the world’s largest economy, with the largest GDP, healthcare infrastructure and the highest rate of technological development in medical services.

The nation does not have a system that ensures that all the citizens have an access to the health care, and thus has not achieved the universal health care system. In fact, some less economically and industrialized nations like Cuba and Brazil have achieved more than the United States of America in this area of healthcare (Bardes, Shelley & Schmidt, 2008). Surprisingly enough, the United States of America is ranked behind countries like Botswana, a Southern African nation with few industries, poor infrastructure and heavily affected by HIV/AIDS pandemic, and has little to be compared with the United States of America. Healthcare in Switzerland has several characteristics similar to the U.S health care system that makes it unique and highly successful.

Health insurance in Switzerland is a compulsory requirement for each and every Swiss citizen. The insurance packages they purchase cater for a range of health treatments for these Swiss citizens. Insurance companies are required to offer insurance services to Swiss citizens without discrimination. These companies are not expected to use the insurance services to make or generate profits. Inhabitants of Switzerland who are non-Swiss are required to have purchased insurance cover in the first three months on their arrival. Medical covers from outside Swiss are however rejected by the insurance management in Switzerland whether they state that they cover for health services in Switzerland or not.

The insurance cover for an adult is not the same to that of a child in Switzerland. Insured persons however pay part of the cost incurred in treatment in case they fall sick. Insurance programs in Switzerland aren’t run by the government. The Swiss government in an attempt to ensure a wider insurance cover, it subsidizes the health insurance premiums for low income earners (Lafortune, 2004).

Insurance cover for health services is also a characteristic in the U.S healthcare system. There is Medicare and Medicaid in the U.S. The insurance policy in the U.S is slightly different from that of Switzerland. Health insurance makes the provision of health care in the U.S costly while the one in Switzerland makes it a little cheaper and reasonably low. Health insurance in Switzerland is also compulsory among Swiss nationals while it’s not in the U.S. As a matter of fact, there are many uninsured individuals in the U.S especially non-citizens. Health services in the U.S are however very low and non-satisfactory to their consumers. Medicare in the U. S covers everyone above the age of 65 including both the rich and the poor (Nelson, 2009).

The health care system in Switzerland experiences cooperation between the public and private health care facilities which facilitate access to healthcare services. A person who is insured can choose for their best option where they can access health services according to the level of competence and satisfactory services they get from the institution. The same applies to the United States. An insured person can access health services from both private and public hospitals.

Switzerland commits above ten percent of its GDP on health care. This has translated into improved health care facilities and installation and use of modern technology. The same case applies to the United States. A lot of money has been pumped in healthcare and this has seen an increase and improvement in health services. Now, more people can access good quality health services compared to how it was before the introduction of Obamacare (Nelson, 2009).

One key similarity between the two countries is that they both try to work hard to reduce the total costs incurred in the provision of health care. The cost of health care in the U.S is relatively high despite the fact that people have insurance coverage. However, these health care systems have contributed immensely to higher life expectancy in the two countries. The rate of mortality is also relatively low in the two countries.

3. Compare the differences between the two (2) systems and identify the main contributing factor for the difference.

The most significant difference between the two is the quality of service offered and subsequent customer satisfaction from the services. The services offered in Switzerland are much better and high quality in comparison to those in the United States. Customer satisfaction is higher in Switzerland compared to the same in the United States. This aspect is most probably due to the fact that the medical facilities in Switzerland are a little better in terms of infrastructure and hospital equipment hence offering better services to the relatively lower population in comparison to the same in the U.S.

The cost of health care is much higher in the United States than in Switzerland despite the fact that consumer satisfaction and the quality of services offered are quite low. The cost of health care in Switzerland is reasonably low and the quality of services is high. This is most probably because everyone pays for insurance cover hence the reasonable cost incurred in offering health care services provision. In the United States however, quite a high percentage of both its nationals and non-citizens do not have heath care insurance cover.

There exists a wide variation in the number of patients a doctor can handle between Switzerland and United States. There is a higher number in the number of patient- doctor ratio in the United States than it is in Switzerland. The number of health practitioners in Switzerland is relatively high. This great variation in the ratio is probably due to the differences in the populations of the two countries. While Switzerland has a lower population compared to the United States.

The cost of drugs in Switzerland is far low compared to the price in the United States. Some of the cost of the drugs is catered for by the respective insurance companies. Doctors in Switzerland write prescriptions to their patients and drugs are easily accessible in pharmacies and even in Supermarkets. Drug prices in the United States are relatively high despite the fact that many pharmaceutical companies are in the United States.

Another significant difference between the two is that the Swiss system does not allow insurance companies to make profits from the cover they provide to individuals. The system in the United States however does not set this limit to insurance companies and they can provide health insurance cover and generate profits from the same activity at the same time. Provision of health cover by insurance companies other than ensuring that health is a number one priority through non-profit gains from the process tries to mould a society that is not driven by selfish interests compromising other important virtues and values of the society.

4. Evaluate the effect of this system on the GDP of the foreign nation.

The fact that Switzerland spends above 10% of its total GDP does not impoverish the country. Rather, the level of productivity is enhanced due to the fact that, a higher number of the population is healthy and engaging in economic activities. Therefore, the high amount of money injected into health care by the government enhances the subsequent productivity of the country. There is advanced technology and therefore issues of health can be taken care of quickly and easily (Steve, 2009).

There is reduced low infant mortality rate in Switzerland as a result of the good health care services offered. This means that productive people in the Swiss economy can remain productive for longer enough due to the subsequent increase in life expectancy. High productivity by the citizens of a country translates to increase GDP at the long run. Therefore, even though it may seem like too much of the resources are spent on health care in Switzerland, maybe it could be more different if it was not the same case scenario and maybe the economy could be performing poorly.

Important to note is the fact that Switzerland performs very well economically compared to other countries in the world. It records one of the lowest levels and rates of unemployment in the world. The GDP in Switzerland is higher than that of the United Kingdom. Therefore, the amount they spend in health allocation is directly equivalent to the economic performance of the country (Stebve, 2009).

5. Speculate how the system impacts the patient-physician relationship

The Swiss health care system ensures that everyone has access to health quality health care services to everyone at relatively low costs. Hospitals are well equipped with the latest technologies hence efficiency in providing health services to their consumers. This factor enhances satisfaction of their respective patients since the services offered are of quality and at relatively subsidized costs.

The relationship between physicians and patients is likely to be good and warm. This is because one; the health services offered are of high quality and the hospitals are well equipped. Since the patients get high quality services in return for what they pay for in their premiums, they are likely to be friendly and not frustrated by the education system. People work hard to see that their investment is returned back in terms of enhanced services. The use of recent technology to enhance efficiency and treatment of the patients shows concern by both the government and health providers.

The fact that the Swiss nationals feels that their government prioritizes issues of health their attitude towards payment of premiums is more likely to come out of individual free will. These nationals are also likely to take health matters with the kind of seriousness it deserves. This means that the profession will earn great respect and a high stature in the society. The patients will approach with confidence in health practitioners and they will have faith in that they are capable of ensuring a healthy society.

The relationship is also likely to be good due to the fact that the number of health practitioners is high and enough therefore reducing the patient- doctor ratio. There are many nurses and health practitioners in Switzerland compared to any other country in the world. This means that doctors are not likely to be overworked and their services overstretched. This creates a friendly and conducive work environment for these practitioners hence the good and satisfactory services offered by these practitioners.

6. Assess how the physician labor supply is impacted by the system and speculate on the impact of this on the physician supply over the next two (2) decades

High investment in the health system has tremendously contributed to enhanced growth and performance of the system. Equipping of hospitals with recent high tech equipment’s have subsequently led to ease in operations in these hospitals. The great commitment of the government in supplying labour services has in return enhanced enrolment in this profession. The evidence of this is got from the fact that this country has the lowest patient – doctor ratio.

Physician labour supply is significantly high in Switzerland at the moment. The country records the lowest patient- doctor ratio worldwide. Their nurses are both well trained and therefore the subsequent delivery and supply of health services is relatively impressive. Pharmacists in Switzerland are also highly trained and skilled to provide medical assistance to patients. A high population of Swiss nationals in fact prefer going to seek medical assistance from pharmacists rather than go to ordinary hospitals. This further makes the work of doctors much easier.

People also prefer getting medical advice and drug prescription from the doctors where they then get the medicine at relatively low and subsidized prices from pharmacies and even in supermarkets. Reduced work pressure for medical practitioners means that these health personnel aren’t likely to be working under pressure. This is likely to contribute to increased enrolment in this profession due to better working and favourable conditions.

In the next two decades, it’s very likely that the health care market is going to flock with health practitioners as the government looks forward to and formulates policies that are intended at improving enhancing and increasing the efficiency of the health care system. It’s very likely that the population of Switzerland shall rapidly increase in the next few years or so. This will translate to increase in the number of health practitioners.

It is not a wonder that the Swiss health system is undisputedly the best system in the world and the United States was and still is trying to copy the same to their system. However, they are in the transitional phase and much still needs to be done to streamline the United States health care system in an attempt to improve and enhance its efficiency.

References

Bardes, B. A., Shelley, M. C., & Schmidt, S. W. (2008). American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Etienne, C. (2010). The World Health Report: health syastems financing. Geneva: World Health Organization.
Hulten, C. (1980). The Shaping of the Swedish Health Care System. NY: St Martins Press.
Lafortune, G. (2004). Towards High Performing Health Systems. Paris: OECD.
Nelson, D. (2009). Swiss Health Care Thrives Without Public Action. The New York Times , p. A 1.
Sherrow, V. (2009). Universal Healthcare. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.
Steve, B. (2009). Switzerland: Inside the Worlds Finest Health Care System. Oklahoma: Borborgymi.

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