Healthcare system in the United States vs. Japan

Debate on healthcare system is increasingly gaining popularity in the United States. In fact, in the contemporary socio-economic policy reforms, quality and affordable healthcare has dominated global media headlines. While other developed economies have done significant changes to improve funding and access to healthcare services, Japan system is one of the best hence forms the basis of comparison with the US. Japan has a healthcare policy model that is unique, relatively cheaper and reliable as compared to the United States (Wise & Yashiro, 2006). While Japan has a universal and mandatory on-job healthcare insurance system, the US uses hybrid system that is rather complex and relatively more expensive. In that respect, overall cost of healthcare accessibility in Japan is among the cheapest among industrialized countries by almost half of the United States’ case.

The US political system of federalism has seen the states struggle to control healthcare at local level further complicating policy reforms while Japan has a unitary government that has easy time executing reforms. In fact, in Japan, the employed pay premium part of which cater for the economically inactive children, retired and the elderly. Besides, the Japan government pays a quarter towards each person insured hence significantly easing access to quality healthcare for all. Prescriptive drugs in the Japan are free for children. On the other hand, the United States emphasizes each individual taking insurance to cater for personal healthcare needs (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2010). The retired individuals must take care of their own healthcare needs through prior premium payment while on job. Children insurance is secured by the parent. However, lately under the Obamacare, state subsidized healthcare insurance to the elderly and the low income groups. The company based insurance provision in Japan is relatively cheaper at estimated $1,931 as compared to the US where average employee pay about $3,354 per year. This observation is due to the fact that about a third of workers’ premium is channeled towards transfer of wealth from the rich and young to the elderly and low income population.

In terms of premium contribution, Japan employers’ remittance matches individual employees’ contributions. On the contrary, Employers in the United States contribute more than three times their employees’ contribution. It can therefore be noted that healthcare insurance in the United States is much expensive hence significant putting a burden and prohibitive to the low income groups. Government policy on insurance firms in Japan has effectively cut down on profit making at the expense of the people. In the United States, healthcare insurance firms charge expensive to achieve competitive profit margin. In fact, the healthcare insurance provision in the US is influenced by of forces free market while Japan put premium limits. Comparative medical coverage statistics show Japan as leading ahead of the United States (Countries, 2013). Considering the mandatory healthcare insurance coverage in Japan, access to quality healthcare at affordable cost is wider and more reliable than the US. In Japan, employers pay premiums that match each employee’s contribution. In the United States, where health insurance is far more expensive, employers pay private insurers three or four times the amount contributed by each employee. However, the self-employed population in Japan pays a much expensive yearly health insurance at an estimated $1600. Besides, patients that have attained working-age must enter a co-payment insurance of 30 percent to cater for drugs and treatment (Blank, 1994). This program is the most expensive globally as compared to the US hybrid and flexible system.

Despite the aforementioned differences, the choice of physician is on the hands of patients. All referral are made through insurance firms. Generally, the healthcare financing mechanism in Japan makes it cheaper than in the United States.

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