Modern Healthcare Systems Compared

USA vs. New Zealand

All civilized and industrialized countries have some form of healthcare system. Even so, countries that meet the standard just mentioned are different in one or more ways. When it comes to healthcare systems, there are factors like public/private blend, whether there is single payer/universal healthcare in play, how much the government has to pay or fund, how much people have to contribute when it comes to the same and so forth. There are also the perceived strengths and shortcomings that are inherent to each system and what those precisely are can differ based on priorities, ideology and worldviews. When the healthcare systems of New Zealand and the United States are similar, there are also some stark differences that can be identified and discussed.


When it comes to New Zealand, the complexity of the system rivals the United States. Even with that, the system is quite different. While the United States has the Affordable Care Act and the Department of Health and Human Services, the central entity in the New Zealand healthcare system is the central government and the agency that is known as the Ministry of Health. The chief responsibilities of the Ministry of Health include making policy, issuing and enforcing regulations, providing leadership and providing national services. The last of those includes district healthcare boards (DHB) funding, performance management, capacity planning and strategic prioritization. In the United States, a lot of the burden with healthcare is spread between the federal and state governments (New Zealand, 2016).

In New Zealand, there are a total of twenty district healthcare boards. The main functions of those DHB’s include reporting/monitoring, service agreements and so forth. Some of the providers are internal to the DHB’s while there are also private and non-government organization (NGO) groups that provide a litany of services such as pharmacy access, PHO’s, general practitioners, voluntary providers, community trusts, private hospitals, Maori/Pacific providers and disability support services. There is a mix of government-paid services and those that are handled by private healthcare insurance, the latter of which is not unlike what is commonly seen in the United States. Also important are the other agencies and parts of the system that include the Healthy Workforce New Zealand group, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and other health partnerships and groups. In short, the system is a blend of private and public frameworks mixed together to provide a good and strong overall standard of care. As with most countries, the public part of the mechanisms is funded by tax dollars that are paid by people and businesses that operate within the country of New Zealand (New Zealand, 2016).

The United States, of course, is quite different. Things were actually largely private before 2010 when the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare) was passed. Even so, the system is much more private-dominated than New Zealand. Indeed, it has been the norm for quite a while for people in the United States to get coverage through their employer or to be covered by a family member that does so. Until the ACA was passed, healthcare was not mandatory to purchase but…

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