The Japanese and the US Healthcare Systems: Comparative Analysis

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Japan is one of the fastest growing nations, and its health system is quite diverse. The country provides its citizens with free general health care. People in need of medical assistance are supplied with a range of options. It is possible to compare the Japanese and US healthcare systems to identify possible flaws and areas of improvement in the healthcare of the United States of America.

Health Statistics and Costs

Japan has the most liberal health insurance settlements and a considerable number of high-technology medical facilities whose costs are not as high as those in the United States of America are. The aptitude of the persons to live healthy lives has reduced the percentage of diseases in the country. In Japan, the pattern of life expectancy has risen majorly because of a healthy lifestyle Japanese people have.

There have also been major advances in life expectancy in the US over the last years. However, it has been estimated that such illnesses as heart attack, diabetes, obesity, and stroke have been a major setback in the US (Ridic, Gleason & Ridic, 2012). Moreover, middle-aged citizens in the USA eat food high in cholesterol, and, as a result, they are usually hospitalized. On the other side, Japanese people stick to conventional dietary habits. These include the use of herbs in their diet, which reduces heart attacks and cases of obesity. People’s lifestyles are an important element that affects the level of healthcare expenditure. According to the data of the World Bank, in 2014, the healthcare expenditure in Japan comprised 10.3% of its GDP while in the USA the healthcare expenditure was 17.1% of its GDP (Health expenditure, 2015).

Health Care Financing

The Japanese health care insurance enables all citizens to receive medical services at any given time. The government provides significant financial assistance to other health insurance systems (Kelley, Arispe & Holmes, 2006). Importantly, Japanese hospitals do not make profit and, hence, all patients (irrespective of their insurance coverage) obtain high-quality medical services. According to the patient protection and care act, patients are supposed to have quality and affordable medical attention in the USA. However, this law has not been that effective since most of the private hospitals in the US operate to gain profits compared to Japan. Hence, Americans get healthcare services according to their insurance coverage and those who do not have the insurance (homeless and poor) cannot access high-quality medical services.

Health Care Administration

Japan has had a universal health cover over the years, which have seen reliable services at a very reasonable cost. The law has ensured that each citizen has a medical insurance coverage that is provided by the local government (Chaix, Merlo & Chauvin, 2006). The government controls medical fees to keep them affordable for all Japanese people. Medical fees are regulated depending on the monthly income of each household. A specific percentage is cut from the salary, and the government pays for the rest. The government also provides financial assistance to the homeless, unlike the US government. Medical fees are reconsidered every two years in Japan. In the USA, each individual has to obtain his/her healthcare insurance that is quite expensive. As a result, in 2013, 20.4% of Americans aged 18-64 were uninsured while only 16.7% of this population had a public health plan (Health insurance coverage, 2015). It is clear that such coverage is insufficient and many people do not have an access to high-quality medical services in the USA, and the government should address this issue.

Health Care Personnel and Facilities

The United States government has ensured that both private and public hospitals receive the required number of physicians to reduce cases of death due to patients not being attended (Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2015). Moreover, the health care facilities are improved and state of the art though they are quite expensive. The country also invests in top laboratories. On the other hand, the number of practitioners in Japan is insufficient, which has made it quite problematic for patients to obtain suitable medical attention. It is noteworthy that Japan also invests significant funds into laboratories and the country is famous for its advances in the sphere of medical research.


Just like in the US, Japanese people are entitled to medical insurance coverage and the country’s health platform is growing rapidly. Although there is a shortage of practitioners, the Japanese government addresses this issue and young people are encouraged to enter the profession. In the US, on the contrary, there is quite sufficient number of healthcare professionals, and the system is properly financed. Some even stress that it is over-financed. However, not all Americans have an opportunity to get high-quality medical services, as they do not have proper insurance coverage. Finally, lifestyles and eating habits in the two countries are quite different and this leads to differences in life expectancy, quality of life and healthcare expenditure. It is clear that the country should pay more attention to prevention rather than treatment of diseases.

Reference List

Chaix, B., Merlo, J., & Chauvin, P. (2005). Comparison of a spatial approach with the multilevel approach for investigating place effects on health: The example of healthcare utilisation in France. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59(6), 517-526.

Health expenditure, total (% of GDP). (2015). Web.

Health insurance coverage. (2015). Web.

Kelley, E.T., Arispe, I., & Holmes, J. (2006). Beyond the initial indicators: Lessons from the OECD Health Care Quality Indicators Project and the US National Healthcare Quality Report. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 18(suppl.1), 45-51.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, 2014 update: How the U.S. health care system compares internationally. (2015). Web.

Ridic, G., Gleason, S., & Ridic, O. (2012). Comparison of healthcare systems in the United States, Germany and Canada. Materia Sociomedica, 24(2), 112-120.

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NursingBird. "The Japanese and the US Healthcare Systems: Comparative Analysis." April 6, 2022.