The American healthcare system is ranked 37th globally by the World Health Organization. It is renowned for its financial focus making it one of the most expensive care systems in the world. Japan, on the other hand, is a complete contrast to the U.S. Japan boosts of the cheapest healthcare services in the world. The country offers affordable healthcare for all people leading to the high health life expectancy of Japanese people. Comparing the two systems reveals many points of differences and some similarities. Both systems require intensive management and continuous improvement to ensure the advancement of healthcare in line with the global vision of affordable healthcare for all people.
The Japanese have more access to healthcare than American citizens. In Japan, every adult has a health insurance policy that caters for all medical needs. Americans to have a health insurance policy, but it does not account for the unemployed people. Japanese health insurance is run in two dimensions: the government health ministry insurance and the social insurance policy. The health ministry insurance caters for the employed people where the average premiums are $280 per annum. The employers pay about 70% of the amount, and the citizens pay the remaining 30% (Ellis et al., 2014). In case a person loses his or her job, he or she does not lose the health insurance cover, but the local government caters for with a special budget allocation. As a result, even the unemployed people have access to quality healthcare catered for by their health insurance.
Japan is a largely capitalist economy. The country has limited natural resources, and much of the GDP is raised from industrialization and trade. It has a population of about 130 million while the U.S has a population of 326 million. Abuts 80% of all healthcare facilities in Japan are owned by private entities while only 21% of U.S health facilities are privately owned (Mossialos et al., 2016). A common assumption would be that people in the U.S have more access to healthcare since most of the hospitals are either owned by the government or by non-profit organizations (58%). However, that is not the case. The Japanese government regulates all healthcare and makes it available to its citizens. The charges for treatment and prices for drugs are universally agreed upon by the ministry of health.
A2A. Coverage of Medications
Japanese healthcare system is better than the U.S system on coverage of medication. Due to the regulation of prices and treatment plans above, people from all walks of life can receive the best treatment in Japan (Mossialos et al., 2016). For instance, Japan has cheaper MRI scans than the U.S. the Japanese government revises the prices for MRI scans every two years and the associated medication. Hospitals have to comply with the agreed prices lest they get charged with incompliance. The united states health system is composed of many entities. The system offers stratified coverage of the citizens depending on their categories and level of care needed. Specialized medications are assigned to specialized institutions since some facilities lack equipment and expert personnel. In Japan, the health system is universal and across all levels of care.
Coverage of medications is more developed in Japan because the ministry of health liaises with technology industries to produce equipment at lower prices. That was the case with MRI scan equipment allowing virtually all primary health centers to have them. In America, there are no such agreements, and the facilities that have the machines charge top dollar for them. All rounded coverage of medications allows Japan to have the lowest infant mortality rate in the world and the highest life expectancy (Chinta, 2017).
A2B. Referral to See a Specialist
Referrals to see specialists are more advanced in Japan than in the United States. In Japan, patients have an average of 3 appointments more than patients in America (Onishi et al., 2017). It is easier to acquire an appointment with a specialist in Japan than it is in the United States. This is mainly due to the coverage of medical costs by insurance in Japan which is more advanced than in the united states. When the charges are catered for, patients can do follow up on their condition and monitor their healing over time.
A2C. Coverage for Preexisting Conditions
The coverage of preexisting conditions in Japan stands at 100% while that of the united states stands at 83% (Ellis et al., 2014). The coverage is primarily because of the affordability of the care in Japan compared to the United States. For instance, Japan caters for all outpatient and home-based care including the prescriptions. Once the older adults retire, their health insurance is moved from the ministry of health scheme to the social insurance run by the local governments. The insurance allows the elderly to receive medication for their preexisting conditions long after they are done with employment. In the united states, most of the elderly unfortunately lose their health insurance once they retire from work. However, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was implemented to ensure that all people have access to healthcare at subsidized costs (Chinta, 2017). A key clause in the Act is that every person should be treated regardless of their finances then asked to settle the bills later. The provision has led to the increase in health access to the hitherto 83%.
An added advantage in the Japanese's system is the cash benefits offered to women at childbirth. The benefits allow them to cater for their nutritional needs and support necessities for childbearing. The United States health system has no benefits at childbirth except the insurance of the father and the father of a child (Reich & Shibuya, 2015). The Japanese system also offers specialized care services such as prosthetics provision and dentures. In most cases, the united states healthcare system provides the specialized services in government hospitals at subsidized fees depending on the complexity. However, the Japanese system does not cater for all specialized treatments. Some physical examinations are charged separately despite the patient's insurance. It does not cover over-the-counter drugs and complex dental procedures. However, if the procedures are preexisting, the Japanese system considers them as products of previous medical tests and caters for them under the health insurance policy (Chinta, 2017). The Japanese system thus has more coverage of preexisting conditions than the US system. However, proposed amendments of the 2010 Affordable Care Act are bound to improve the condition in the US.
A3. Finance Implications for Healthcare Delivery
Healthcare delivery takes about 8% of Japan's GDP and about 17% of the US GDP (Reich & Shibuya, 2015). Despite Japan having a larger population to care for, it still spends less compared to the United States. Insurance premiums are more affordable in Japan than in the US. The Japanese government subsidizes the costs and creates common prices for drugs and conventional medical procedures. For instance, in Japan, admission into a ward shared by four patients ward costs $10 per night per person and $90 for a private hospital ward. In the united states, admission costs are to the tune of $30 per person in a sharing ward. The Japanese government raises less capital from rendering medical services than the US because it is illegal for insurance companies to gain profits from health insurance. Health institution that hike prices risk license cancellation and apprehension. As a result of the Japanese healthcare regulations, at least 50% of healthcare facilities are in financial deficit (Mossialos et al., 2016). They cannot cater for their costs and require a surplus budgetary allocation. However, Japan successfully handles the financial implication and focuses on ways of raising revenue to ensure that health costs will be continuously revised downwards. The Affordable Care Act in the US also aims at managing the financial implications of health to ensure quality above costs.
Japan has a better healthcare system than the united states. Despite her large population, Japan offers affordable healthcare to all citizens regardless of employment status or class in society. The government controls private hospitals as well as public ones and ensures that costs are within acceptable standards. The United States spends more mainly because the prices are less subsidized than in Japan. Japanese technology companies produce machinery at subsidized costs, and thus the associated treatments fall within the affordable cost gap. However, the systems in both countries require extensive amendments to ensure that they are sustainable and maintain optimum quality.
Chinta, D. (2017). Comparing Health Care Systems in Canada/UK, USA and Switzerland to Assess the Direction of US Health Care Reform. GSTF Journal on Business Review (GBR), 2(4).
Ellis, R. P., Chen, T., & Luscombe, C. E. (2014). Comparisons of health insurance systems in developed countries. Encyclopedia of Health Economics, 1.
Mossialos, E., Wenzl, M., Osborn, R., & Sarnak, D. (2016). 2015 international profiles of health care systems. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health.
Onishi, E., Kobayashi, T., Dexter, E., Marino, M., Maeno, T., & Deyo, R. A. (2017). Comparison of opioid prescribing patterns in the United States and Japan: primary care physicians' attitudes and perceptions. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 30(2), 248-254.
Reich, M. R., & Shibuya, K. (2015). The future of Japan's health system-sustaining good health with equity at low cost. New England Journal of Medicine, 373(19), 1793-1797.
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