Background Information about Public Health Insurance

Obtaining the correct health insurance plan for you and your family can often make the difference when it comes to maintaining good health or achieving a speedy recovery in the unfortunate event that you may fall ill. There are a vast array of different types of health insurance plans and there is no doubt that it is tricky to find the ideal plan for you. This is where we come in as we hope to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about when it comes to health insurance. For information on private health insurance please have a read of our article on the ‘pros and cons of private health insurance’. This article will seek to outline all that you need to know about the potential of the concept of public health insurance.

Background information you ought to know about public health insurance

Health insurance exists so that in the event that you may fall ill or generally require a diagnosis or any treatment you can receive the proper medical assistance that you may require. ‘Public’ health insurance refers to government led or organised insurance plans and these vary from country to country. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is the national public healthcare provider which provides the British population with free healthcare covering factors such as consultancy, prescription medication and emergency healthcare. This service is available to all ordinary residents within the UK. Ultimately, the tax-funded NHS strives to provide universal healthcare to the British people, including legally residing expats and foreign nationals. Unfortunately, not many countries in the world are privileged enough to have such a service and many countries offer health care services which require individual medical bills every time the service is used.  

In the United States the option for public health insurance has been a notion that has been publically discussed and explored in the past. Previously, proposals have been made in the hope to develop a public health insurance agency run by the government, similar to how it is run in the UK, to rival private health insurance companies. The initiative that has been proposed would differ to Great Britain’s National Healthcare Service, however, in the way that it would be specific only to health insurance and not to general healthcare.

Various countries around the world do have similar services to the NHS such as Norway, Japan, Germany, Iceland and Spain, however, despite these countries all providing a single payer system many people still opt to take out private health insurance plans to help compliment the public service that everyone is provided with. There are obvious incentives such as skipping waiting lists and getting a speedy diagnosis and these are discussed in detail in our page dedicated to providing information on the private side of things.

What does public health insurance involve exactly?

To summarise in short, if available, the public health insurance option involves a situation where health insurance is provided by the government with no costs. These tend to be majority funded through tax, however, sometimes can receive funding through national insurance known as NI in the United Kingdom. Of course, on paper, these types of services are ideal and often make the difference between staying ill and achieving a proper recovery especially for those who cannot afford the often expensive medical bills that are associated with healthcare, however, when an entire country’s population has this service available it sometimes becomes difficult to manage and it is generally extremely costly to the government causing great financial strains. This is very much the reason why it is difficult for countries the size of the likes of the United States or Brazil to implement such a service as the cost, organisation and general logistics of a government funded health care service across such a massive scale would prove to be unbelievably complicated and difficult to administer.

Things to bear in mind

When deciding upon whether or not to remain public or go private you should be fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each health insurance option.

As you very well know by now, the greatest advantage of public health insurance is that in the unfortunate event that you become sick and require medical care and assistance you can get this for free, which means that there is little risk of medical bills causing severe financial strain or even bankruptcy so this is the obvious advantage.

However, in systems such as the NHS in the UK the population are experiencing troubles with how long it takes for this free care to reach them. Many people across the UK now experience long waiting lists even just to see their GP. With private insurance the waiting time for appointments and treatment are often not longer than a couple of days.

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