"Free Health Care"
Government-controlled health care is not free – it comes at a great cost through higher taxes, wait times and denials of coverage.
United States: In the U.S., a family of four with an employer-based PPO will have around $15,609 total this year in health care costs. Of this amount, $9,442 will be paid by the employer and the employee will contribute $3,492 in premiums and $2,675 on co-payments, equivalent to about 6 percent of average family income.
Canada: In Canada, while the percentage of taxes used to provide health care varies, it is estimated that 22 percent of taxes collected went to the health system in 2004. Several provinces, including Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, also charge additional premiums. Canadians also may spend money to receive private treatment for procedures or drugs that are not covered by the government system.
United Kingdom: Citizens of the U.K. pay 11 percent of each pound they make in weekly income (£100 - £670) for the NHS, plus an additional 1 percent for income over £670 a week. Copayments for drugs are low, but many drugs are not covered, often because they are not considered cost efficient. In addition, anyone who uses their own money to buy powerful but expensive drugs not paid for by the NHS finds him or herself shut out of the system. According to BBC News, the NHS has imposed a policy that denies treatments to patients if they exceed £30,000 a year.
Germany: In Germany, coverage from a public sickness fund ranges significantly in cost, from around 12.2 to 16.7 percent of income, with the employee paying a bit under half. This year, premiums are to be standardized from the federal level and health care experts anticipate that they will be set to around 15.5 percent.
France: According to the OECD, the French pay 20 percent more in taxes than Americans. In France, employees contribute only to 0.75 percent of their salaries towards medical care, but also pay a 7.5 percent General Social Contribution, the majority of which is earmarked for the health system. This base coverage reimburses people for the majority of costs for doctor visits and for a portion of the costs of medications. On top of the government coverage, almost all French residents have supplementary coverage from a “mutuelle”, costing approximately 2.5 percent of salary.
Netherlands: It is too early to reach firm conclusions on the cost of the Dutch health care system since it has been in place only two and a half years. In 2006, it cost approximately $2,590 for a family of four (children are free) to obtain mandatory coverage. However, 90 percent of Dutch people buy supplementary coverage from private insurers. Costs have increased since 2006 and may have been artificially low. Only time will show what the new system really costs.
Switzerland: Switzerland is one of the world’s most expensive systems and cost is a common complaint. The Swiss pay an average of $680 per month or around $8,167 annually for four people on the basic plan. Total health costs can add up to around 16 percent of income. Those who want supplementary coverage must pay more and costs can exceed $1,000 a month. Costs are rising at a steady pace and are not indexed to income, a burden for those in lower pay brackets.