Comparison of Health Care Systems: United States and Japan Essay Sample

Comparison of Health Care Systems: United States and Japan


Provision of health care services to all citizens is one of the major tasks of any government. From numerous debates, it is evident that offering such services can be a very complicated process requiring the active involvement of every stakeholder. The current paper compares the health care systems of the United States and Japan. It provides information on major medical statistics and costs incurred, financing, human resource, and healthcare administration.

Health Statistics and Costs

The discussion below provides information about and compares health statistics costs of the United States and Japan. Health statistics include life expectancies and mortality rates, major health conditions and diseases, health care expenditure per capita and expenditure in regard to the gross domestic product.

United States. The data collected from Medicaid and Medicare centers shows that (CMS) the Unites States spent $3.0 trillion for medical services in 2014 (CDC 2016, b). As per the latest 2014 data, health system covered approximately 17.5% of the total national expenditures. Some of the major health conditions in the United States include cardiovascular conditions, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2011). The rate of life expectancy in the United States stands at 78.8 years, while the mortality rates are at 823.7 per 100,000 of the population.

Japan. Japan spends approximately $480 million for health care as per the latest statistics, which amounts of approximately 10.2% of its annual GDP (Rodwin, 2016). The most common conditions in Japan are cancer, pneumonia, and heart strokes. Japan has a higher life expectancy compared to the USA, which is 83 years. In terms of mortality rates, as per the latest 2014 statistics, it was at 9.38 deaths per 1,000 of the population (Rodwin, 2016).

Comparison of countries. The above statistics shows that healthcare system in Japan is better than that of the United States. Apart from Japan being the third largest spender on health care after China and the United States, the quality of services offered in the country is higher due to the higher life expectancy and lower mortality rates.

Healthcare Financing

The information below outlines the ways in which health care is financed for its citizens in the two countries. It also provides a brief description of the new US Affordable Care Act.

United States. Healthcare in the US is primarily funded by taxes (64%), which amount of approximately $1.9 trillion (CDC 2016, b). These funds come from programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare. Another program that provides health care funding is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that was launched by President Barack Obama in 2010 (CDC, 2015, a). Unlike others, this program seeks to provide quality and affordable health care services in the country. Currently, approximately 9.1 % of Americans do not have health insurance covers (CDC 2016, b).

Japan. In Japan, on the contrary, patients incur approximately 30% of the cost, while the government covers the remaining 30%. Japan has adopted a universal health care insurance system, and all the residents are required to have health insurance (Rodwin, 2016).

Comparison of countries. Financing statistics show that the two countries have many similar features in terms of health care funding. In both countries, the government is the main institution that funds the health care system.

Healthcare Administration

The current section provides information on health care administration. Moreover, outlines, which government agencies oversee and regulate the provision of health care for its citizens and what their functions are.

United States. In the United States, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid regulate essential health care services and ensures accountability. Moreover, the department of health and human services performs the oversight role.

Japan. The Japanese government regulates health care system in the country. Agencies delegated to perform these functions include the Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau and National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Comparison of countries. From the above discussion, it is evident that health care is a very critical sector of any country. As a result, those institutions that oversee and regulate it should be very conversant with all the aspects and rules governing its practices. It can be demonstrated by the number of agencies that have been formed to provide oversight functions.

Human Resource

This section provides information on the total numbers of nurses, physicians and hospitals in the United States and Japan.

United States. Data from the Labor Department indicated that there are approximately 3.1 million registered nurses. It means that the nurse to patient ratio is at 1:100. In the United States, there are approximately 5,627 registered hospitals (Rodwin, 2016).

Japan. Japan, on the other hand, has patient to nurse ration approximately 660,000 to 191,000 respectively (Rodwin, 2016). Latest statics revealed that there were approximately 8,500 hospitals in Japan in 2014 and the numbers are expected to rise (Rodwin, 2016).

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Comparison of countries. The above statistics shows that the healthcare systems in both countries is the fastest growing sector. As a result, there is a need for enough qualified personnel to meet the growing demands.


In conclusion, it is evident that although the two countries share many similar features in terms of their health care systems. Nevertheless, Japanese tend to pay less for medical services as their system provides more comprehensive coverage than the American. Additionally, there is a large number of Americans who are uninsured compared to Japanese. For example, approximately 13.4% of all Americans are still uninsured, while in Japan this rate is only 10%. Since the ethnic and racial diversity is higher in the US than in Japan, it is evident that it has affected health care experience. Consequently, minority groups who have little income face many challenges related to affordability and quality of health care services. 

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