How Does Healthcare for Seniors Stack Up Against Other Countries?

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The United States is a country that has unparalleled wealth, resources, opportunities and bright minds- but a healthcare system that tends to be compared negatively to other countries. Here’s how it ranks against other models.


In their 2013 ranking, the World Health Organization ranked France as having the world’s best healthcare system, with three-quarters (77%) of healthcare costs covered by the state. The country also lives an average of two years longer than Americans, and boasts of half the infant mortality rate. And while Republicans might say that France’s system costs too much to be sustainable, they only spend less than 11% of their GDP, compared with more than 16% in the States. Oh, and they don’t pay for cancer treatment.


Our neighbors to the north are constantly being help up as a paragon for healthcare idealism, but with good reason. Canadians only spend an average cost of $3,895 per person; Americans spend $7,290. Plus, Canadians are covered for a wide range of products and services, with their heavily-funded system resulting in procedures and products costing less than in the States.


This hot-blooded country ranks #5 on the Bloomberg list of most efficient healthcare by country, with no surprise: the universal coverage pays for everything except prescription medication. They also manage to keep procedural costs down, with an MRI costing $245 (US: $1,080), a coronary artery bypass only $17,098 (US: $67,583), a hip replacement $12,023 (US: $38,017), and one day in the hospital at $515 (US: $3,949.)

United Kingdom

Across the pond, seniors get a wider range of healthcare services paid for by the state, with a lower price tag for each. For example, they have 82 hospital beds per 10,000 people, spend just over $3,000 per person for them to live until an average age of 81, and only have 4.8 diabetes-related lower extremity amputations (US: 32.9.)

Hong Kong

This Asian country only spends a very impressive 3.8% of their GDP, even though public hospitals see 90% of the population. And with a life expectancy of 83.4 years, with the government only spending $1,409 on each person, Hong Kong takes the top spot as Bloomberg’s most efficient country for healthcare.


Asian countries are serious- and efficient- with their healthcare, with Japan ranking #3 on the Bloomberg list. Why? Though their healthcare system mirrors the new American one, with citizens and employers each contributing to health insurance, Japan sets flat rates for procedures so insurers can’t compete and build pocket-gouging monopolies.


Though almost a third of the country lies inside the Arctic Circle, it’s an excellent place for seniors to live in if they want quality, affordable healthcare. The WHO ranks it #11 because they give basic medical coverage to all people, even those who aren’t citizens (although you have to wait one year before that kicks in.) As well, they group prescription medications into either the blue class (subsidized) or white class (free.)

While seniors get a decent level of healthcare in the United States, it’s neither perfect nor close to competing with many other developed countries.