Healthcare Systems in the US and Netherlands Essay Sample

Healthcare Systems in the US and Netherlands


Adequate healthcare is a critical requirement for any nation. Although many middle and low-income countries are still struggling to achieve effective healthcare delivery, developed countries such as Netherlands have improved healthcare. Netherlands was selected in this case since similar to the U.S., health insurance is an obligation for every citizen in the country (Daley, Gubb, Clarke, & Bidgood, 2013). Nevertheless, both countries differ in the way they provide health services. A detailed analysis of healthcare systems in the USA and Netherlands with a focus on health statistics and costs, financing and administration, human resources, and affordability issues can provide an insight into differences and similarities in healthcare between the two countries.

Health Statistics and Costs

This section provides an analysis of the way each country uses its resources on healthcare. It includes information on major illnesses, death rate, life expectancy, and health expenditure in both countries.

The United States. Average life span in the USA is 78.8 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017). The mortality rate is 823.7 per 100,000 (CDC, 2017). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further explains that the most common chronic illnesses include heart diseases, cancer, and lower respiratory tract diseases. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] (2016) indicate that healthcare spending as a ratio of total population is $9,990 per person. It further documents that the US spends 17.8% of the entire federal budget on healthcare (CMS, 2016).

Netherlands. The World Health Organization [WHO] (2015) indicates that the average lifespan for a person in Netherlands is 82 years. The website Geoba.Se (2017) ascertains that the mortality rate in the country is 888 per 100,000 population. Further, major chronic diseases include cancers, heart diseases, and respiratory diseases (WHO, 2014). Expenditure as a ratio of total population is $5,202 per person, while the total governmental spending on healthcare is 10.9% (WHO, 2015).

Comparison of the USA to Netherlands. The statistics and costs show that although mortality rate is higher in Netherlands, the two countries are committed to improving healthcare. For instance, both countries have a life expectancy of above 78 years and spend over 10% of their budget on healthcare. However, Netherlands seems to have a better healthcare system compared to the USA since it spends less on healthcare but has higher life expectancy.

Healthcare Financing

This section focuses on the way the USA and Netherlands generate finances and allocate them in their healthcare systems. It provides information about both private and state sectors involved in healthcare financing.

The United States. Both sectors have a role in the provision of funds for health services. For instance, the US government programs that include Medicaid and Medicare finance healthcare (Jackson & Nolen, 2010). Additionally, private insurers and individual funds finance healthcare (Shay & Schumacher, 2014). The government collects funds through taxes. The percentages of what the governmental programs and insurance plans pay vary, but the former can be from 80% upwards (Jackson & Nolen, 2010). Finally, the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. is also financed through taxes (Jackson & Nolen, 2010).

Netherlands. Daley et al. (2013) explain that the government finances health and most funds are collected through payroll taxes in both private and public sectors. Payroll taxes constitute a significant percentage of healthcare financing (Daley et al., 2013). However, current and reliable information on specific percentage that the public and private sectors pay is not available.

Comparison. The U.S. and Netherlands are similar regarding health insurance plans. For example, both countries require one to have health insurance to acquire better healthcare services. However, the available information reveals that the U.S. has a more complicated paying system than Netherlands. On the other hand, it is evident that Netherlands has better health outcomes in general. Thus, the U.S. can consider simplifying healthcare financing since the current one is too sophisticated and does not guarantee better healthcare and health outcomes.

Healthcare Administration

This section provides analysis of agencies that oversee, regulate, and provide health insurance in both countries. Information on the recipients of healthcare is also discussed.

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The United States. The US Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] (2011) asserts that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides evidence to make healthcare safer. Further, HHS (2011) indicates that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support promotion and prevention activities regarding healthcare. The two agencies supervise healthcare. Furthermore, some of the agencies that regulate health include the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Office of Civil Rights among others (HHS, 2011). The former guarantees protection of participants, while the latter ensures equal access to healthcare. Finally, CMS and other private insurers insure healthcare. CMS collaborates with the government to administer health insurance (HHS, 2011).

Netherlands. In Netherlands, the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate oversees and promotes provision of quality health services (van Lessen Kloeke, 2014). Its goal is to improve the safety of health services (van Lessen Kloeke, 2014). Further, the Dutch Healthcare Authority regulates healthcare, while various private insurers in collaboration with the Dutch Health Insurance insure healthcare (Daley et al., 2013). The mission of the insurers is to enhance access to healthcare.

Comparison. Both the USA and Netherlands have agencies that oversee, regulate, and provide insurance for health services. However, available information shows that the US has various organizations concerned with the three functions. Nevertheless, both countries support the continuity of these agencies, thus showing that they are improving healthcare.

Human Resources

Both countries have healthcare providers concerned with the provision of health services. Statistics of the health workers are provided below.

The United States. The Human Resources and Services Administration (2013) indicates the U.S. has 225LPNs and 921 RNs per 100,000 population. Further, the U.S. has 127.4 physicians per 100,000 of population (America’s Health Rankings, 2015). However, America’s Health Rankings (2015) asserts that the statistics vary significantly by states. The current and reliable statistics for hospitals and hospital beds were provided in 2009 by the CDC, and they show that all beds were 944,277 (CDC, 2009, p.1). The statistics further indicate that the hospitals were 5,795 (CDC, 2009, p. 1).

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Netherlands. Current and reliable information on the number of nurses per 100,000 population in Netherlands is unavailable. However, Esmail (2014) indicates that Netherlands has 8.6 nurses and 3 physicians per 1,000 population, which is 860 nurses and 300 physicians per 100,000 population (p. 9). Esmail (2014) further ascertains that Netherlands has 4.8 beds per 1,000 population, which equals 480 beds per 100,000 population. The numbers of hospital sites are 151 (Esmail, 2014, p. 11).

Comparison. The available statistics on the workforce and hospitals present challenges to distinguish the country that is better in this aspect. For example, regarding the nursing workforce ratio, the U.S. outperforms Netherlands. However, the ratio of physicians is higher in Netherlands than in the US. Furthermore, Netherlands has fewer beds due to its small population. Nonetheless, improved healthcare delivery in both countries indicates that they are making significant progress towards providing better healthcare.

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Conclusion: Equity and Access Issues

The available information about health statistics, financing, administration, and human resources in the U.S. and Netherlands show that the two countries are aimed at improving healthcare delivery. However, in both countries, some citizens are still struggling to access healthcare services. For example, AHRQ (2011) indicates that in the US, many people, including African Americans and Hispanics are still uninsured. Further, the two ethnicities have challenges accessing better healthcare (AHRQ, 2011). In Netherlands, the Commonwealth Fund (2017) confirms that 1% of the population is uninsured. The number of those that have difficulties accessing healthcare could be higher due to inability of many people to pay for health services (Commonwealth Fund, 2017). Thus, although the two countries have improved healthcare, the governments should make healthcare insurance affordable for every citizen.

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