10 Health Care Systems Around the World


In a 2009 article in "Foreign Policy," Russia was named as having one of the four worst health care systems in the world (the United States also made the list) [source: Lowrey]. In the World Health Organization's survey of health care systems, Russia ranked 130 out of 191, putting it on par with countries that are far less industrialized or developed [source: Danilova]. How can such a wealthy country go so wrong?

When Russia dismantled its Soviet socialized system, it tried to create a public/private combination system. Theoretically, 90 percent of Russian citizens have health insurance through the government, but the system is underfunded, even after a $3.2 billion reform project in 2006 [source: Danilova]. To compensate for the shortage of funds, doctors and hospitals have been known to demand "donations" for care, a system that essentially amounts to blackmail and extortion [sources: Lowery, Rodriguez]. Wealthier citizens usually opt for private coverage.

The World Health Organization recommends that countries allot a minimum of 5 percent of their total spending to health care; Russia spends 3.4 percent [source: Lowrey].

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