List of Countries with Universal Healthcare


By TrueCost

August 12, 2011 Update: Both Cuba and Costa Rica have universal health care. ~Ed.

Update 3/21/2010: With the House’s passage of the Democrats’ reform bill tonight, the US will have close-to universal health care in 2014, using an insurance mandate system.

August 9, 2009: Thirty-two of the thirty-three developed nations have universal health care, with the United States being the lone exception [1]. The following list, compiled from WHO sources where possible, shows the start date and type of  system used to implement universal health care in each developed country [2]. Note that universal health care does not imply government-only health care, as many countries implementing a universal health care plan continue to have both public and private insurance and medical providers.

Country Start Date of Universal Health Care System Type
Click links for more source material on each country’s health care system.
Norway 1912 Single Payer
New Zealand 1938 Two Tier
Japan 1938 Single Payer
Germany 1941 Insurance Mandate
Belgium 1945 Insurance Mandate
United Kingdom 1948 Single Payer
Kuwait 1950 Single Payer
Sweden 1955 Single Payer
Bahrain 1957 Single Payer
Brunei 1958 Single Payer
Canada 1966 Single Payer
Netherlands 1966 Two-Tier
Austria 1967 Insurance Mandate
United Arab Emirates 1971 Single Payer
Finland 1972 Single Payer
Slovenia 1972 Single Payer
Denmark 1973 Two-Tier
Luxembourg 1973 Insurance Mandate
France 1974 Two-Tier
Australia 1975 Two Tier
Ireland 1977 Two-Tier
Italy 1978 Single Payer
Portugal 1979 Single Payer
Cyprus 1980 Single Payer
Greece 1983 Insurance Mandate
Spain 1986 Single Payer
South Korea 1988 Insurance Mandate
Iceland 1990 Single Payer
Hong Kong 1993 Two-Tier
Singapore 1993 Two-Tier
Switzerland 1994 Insurance Mandate
Israel 1995 Two-Tier
United States 2014 Insurance Mandate

Will the United States join this list in 2009?

[1] Roughly 15% of Americans lack insurance coverage, so the US clearly has not yet achieved universal health care. There is no universal definition of developed or industrialized nations. For this list, those countries with UN Human Development Index scores above 0.9 on a 0 to 1 scale are considered developed.

[2] The dates given are estimates, since universal health care arrived gradually in many countries. In Germany for instance, government insurance programs began in 1883, but did not reach universality until 1941. Typically the date provided is the date of passage or enactment for a national health care Act mandating insurance or establishing universal health insurance.

System Types:

Single Payer: The government provides insurance for all residents (or citizens) and pays all health care expenses except for copays and coinsurance. Providers may be public, private, or a combination of both.

Two-Tier: The government provides or mandates catrastrophic or minimum insurance coverage for all residents (or citizens), while allowing the purchase of additional voluntary insurance or fee-for service care when desired. In Singapore all residents receive a catastrophic policy from the government coupled with a health savings account that they use to pay for routine care. In other countries like Ireland and Israel, the government provides a core policy which the majority of the population supplement with private insurance.

Insurance Mandate: The government mandates that all citizens purchase insurance, whether from private, public, or non-profit insurers. In some cases the insurer list is quite restrictive, while in others a healthy private market for insurance is simply regulated and standardized by the government. In this kind of system insurers are barred from rejecting sick individuals, and individuals are required to purchase insurance, in order to prevent typical health care market failures from arising.

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15 responses to “List of Countries with Universal Healthcare

  1. Pingback: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Healthiness | The Legality

  2. Would be more humanely democratic to have included in this article ALL the nations in the world whose governments provide universal health care. Other wise seems racist, for twenty-three of the thirty-two ‘developed’ (a colonial and materialistic term, for those nations become wealthy through colonialism are white nations.

    It shames the wealthy rulers of America more if one compares with nations of modest national income like Cuban, Libya and the former Iraqi government.
    Thanking in advance for what your useful site must be working on,
    jay janson

  3. Why are Cuba and Costa Rica omitted from this list?

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  5. Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia? Not on list!

  6. Mexico has some form of national health insurance, which expats can join if have correct visa.

  7. Butan, Mexico not on list. Can you ammend this list and make it complete for all countries in the world? I think that swould be very helpful and interesting…to see also the ‘less developed’ nations who have made healthcare for it’s citizens a priority.

  8. Bulgaria too. It is part of the Constitution – the right to have guaranteed health care by the state. Not sure, but the system looks to me like 1-tier.

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  13. Taiwan has universal health care too. The start date of its universal health care is 1995. The system type of their health care system is single payer which is similar to Canada but the wait time is much less and coverage is more comprehensive. I hope you can add Taiwan to your list and you may link it to http://www.formosapost.com/healthcare-in-taiwan/ for more source material.

  14. Uruguay implemented free universal health care in 1911, earlier than any of the nations on your list. In that same year some other advanced social reforms included; social security, separation of church and state, divorce, and free education, among other reforms.

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