10 Health Care Systems Around the World



In his 2007 documentary "Sicko," filmmaker Michael Moore took American citizens to Cuba to make a rather dramatic point about the quality of care anyone could receive there. As with most things involving Cuba or Michael Moore, this move was not without controversy. While all citizens -- and all visitors -- are entitled to free medical treatment in Cuba, some critics say that the quality of care differs dramatically for a typical Cuban and an American, particularly one who has a camera crew in tow [sources: DePalma, Scott]. It's also possible that Cuba's encouraging statistics are a bit fudged. For example, while Cuba touts a low infant mortality rate, doctors within the country say they're encouraged to perform abortions if something is wrong with the fetus in the womb [source: Scott]. It's also possible that doctors may not count infants who lived for a very short time as alive at all [source: Scott].

Still, even when the controversy is stripped away, most agree that there is something that Cuba does extremely well: preventive care. Major advertising campaigns tout the importance of exercise, eating right and proper hygiene to fight off germs. Cuba has a high number of general practitioners, and every citizen is subject to a surprise home inspection by one of these doctors, so that doctors can stay abreast of a patient's overall health situation.

Because Cuba's health system prevents disease, the country doesn't have to shell out the big bucks to treat it. Cuba spends only $260 per person on health care each year; the United States spends more than $6,000 [source: Carroll].