10 Health Care Systems Around the World



German doctors protested in 2006 for higher wages.
German doctors protested in 2006 for higher wages.
Associated Press/Roberto Pfeil

All citizens must have health insurance in Germany, which they purchase from private, nonprofit funds. There are about 200 of these plans, none of which is allowed to deny coverage for a pre-existing condition [source: Reid]. To finance this system, Germans pay 8 percent of their salary into a sickness fund; employers match it [source: Knox]. Those who can't afford the plans are eligible for public assistance, and children are covered by taxpayer funds. The wealthiest 10 percent of citizens are allowed to opt out of the system and use a for-profit plan, though the non-profit plans provide very generous benefits, such as time at a spa.

Germany has introduced a series of disease management programs that have proven quite successful. The country found that when patients received more counseling from their doctors as well as regular phone calls from nurses, the rates of hospital admissions and deaths related to conditions like heart disease and diabetes were substantially lowered [source: Harrell].

However, some German doctors feel they're underpaid in this system [source: Neel]. Rather than charging per test ordered or appointment made, as many U.S. doctors do, German doctors receive a quarterly budget that's determined by how many patients they see [source Neel]. Still, doctors are very accessible, and citizens report short waits for tests or surgeries.