U.S. and Japan Healthcare Systems

A1. Country to Compare

The United States is among the nations that have implemented universal healthcare. Japan is another country with a similar system, which uses a universal healthcare insurance scheme (The UMHS Endeavor, 2015). However, while the two countries have adopted the universal care system, a comparative analysis shows that the Japanese healthcare system performs better than the United States.  Japan has arguably one of the most effective healthcare systems in the world. Therefore, regardless of some weaknesses, the U.S. can learn valuable lessons from the Japanese healthcare system.

A1. Access

Although both the United States and Japanese healthcare systems are universal, the U.S. system is more limited in terms of access to care for children, the aged, and unemployed. The United States provides access to health care for those groups based on insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. On the other hand, in Japan, citizens are mandated to enroll in the health coverage programs based on age and employment status (Matsuda, n.d). Therefore, Japan has greater access to universal healthcare for the elderly, children, and unemployed compared to the United States.

A2A. Coverage of Medications

Access to medical procedures and drugs is essential in both the United States and Japanese healthcare systems. However, the Japanese system is more effective in providing services compared to the United States. In Japan, a uniform fee schedule is used, since the government determines and controls the prices of drugs and medical services. As a result, the cost of health is uniform throughout the country (Okamoto, 2014). On the other hand, “professional freedom” in the United States limits the services because doctors determine the cost while the price of medical procedures and drugs vary widely.

A2B. Referral to See a Specialist

Both the United States and Japanese healthcare systems place great importance on referrals to see specialists. However, the U.S. system is stricter compared to the Japanese system, concerning such orders by primary physicians. The Japanese healthcare system does not have stern restrictions, but patients are encouraged by the government to select their preferred doctors. The government also discourages self-referrals by imposing additional charges for initial consultations (Matsuda, n.d).  However, unlike under managed care in the United States, patients in Japan can visit any clinic apart from those that require reservations.

A2C. Coverage for Preexisting Conditions

The United States and Japan differ in terms of coverage of patients with preexisting conditions. In Japan, no patient is denied insurance coverage based on preexisting conditions. The government sets the cost of treatment and medications in the country and strives to ensure that almost all the Japanese are covered (Matsuda, n.d).  On the other hand, the United States health care system leaves room for insurance companies to set conditions for recipients of care. Consequently, some companies might impose conditions that deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

A3. Financial Implications for Healthcare Delivery

Although the Japanese healthcare system is universal and more comprehensive compared to the United States system, the cost of care in Japan is lower than in the U.S. An article in the Washington Post in 2009 revealed that the cost of health care in Japan was half of what the United States citizen pays (The UMHS Endeavour, 2015). Japan achieves the objective by regulating the profits made by insurance companies and limiting doctor fees. In the United States, such endeavors would be unacceptable, explaining the high cost of care regardless of the universal coverage.

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