Countries With the Worst Healthcare Services in 2023
If you’re moving abroad, you may be worried about the healthcare provision you will have access to. Often, we think that the worst healthcare services will be limited to developing countries, where resources and funding are scarce. However, even more developed countries can face challenges with their healthcare services.
Recent data from Statista reveals the countries where people feel most let down by their healthcare. We investigate the issues with these healthcare services and why users may be disappointed by the quality of care provided.
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51% of those surveyed in Ireland felt frequently let down by their healthcare services, which is the highest share of respondents. Ireland is generally thought of as having good healthcare services, with both public and private provisions.
However, over 47% of Irish people have private health insurance. One reason so many have turned to private healthcare is to access faster wait times and avoid overcrowding in the public system. In recent years, nearly 120,000 patients were left waiting for a hospital bed after being admitted and patients in the emergency department had to wait an average of 13 hours to be seen.
Part of the reason for these long wait times could be due to government spending. Data shows that in 2009, 10.5% of Ireland’s GDP was spent on health. In 2022, just 6.1% of GDP went to healthcare.
37% of those surveyed in Germany felt their healthcare services regularly let them down, which was the second-highest share of respondents. Germany is another country that is typically thought of as having a good healthcare system, but it faces challenges that could have led to such a large proportion of people feeling let down.
Germany offers both public and private healthcare, but it does not provide 100% free healthcare. Most people have to pay for health insurance to ensure they’re covered by the public system. Even this does not provide universal care, and some treatments and medications will need to be paid for out-of-pocket.
Germany has seen low recruitment to healthcare roles in recent years as well as large numbers of resignations, particularly in intensive care and operating theatres. Staff have stated that there has been an untenable workload, with many unable to find time to take a short break during long shifts or even go to the toilet.
Over 20,000 healthcare roles in Germany are still vacant. Low staff could account for so many people feeling let down by the healthcare system, as remaining staff will find themselves overstretched.
36% of those surveyed in the UK stated that they felt frequently let down by their healthcare services. The public healthcare system in the UK was once thought of as world-leading but has recently faced major challenges and strains.
The data shows how much the NHS is struggling. In December 2022, 54,000 people in England had to wait over 12 hours in A&E to be admitted – before the pandemic that number was virtually zero. The average wait time for an ambulance to attend a condition such as a heart attack was 90 minutes – the target is 18 minutes. There have been 20% more excess deaths in one week in December 2022 than in the five-year average.
All kinds of healthcare staff, including ambulance staff, doctors, and nurses, have organised strikes in the past year. They have been protesting against low pay and bad working conditions that have resulted in resources being stretched to the point where quality care cannot be given. These working conditions have also contributed to staff shortages, with over 100,000 vacant healthcare roles.
Whilst the government has recently increased funding to public healthcare across the UK, it is battling over a decade of underfunding. Statistics show that the UK spent 18% less on healthcare than the EU14 average between 2010 and 2019.
35% of respondents in Australia said they felt regularly let down by their healthcare services. Australia uses a mix of public and private healthcare provision, with some treatments covered by the public system and “extra” services needed to be paid for. The majority of people in Australia have some level of private healthcare insurance to cover the additional costs.
One of the reasons over a third feel let down by Australian healthcare services could be due to lack of resources. The Australian government has cited rising healthcare costs as a challenge they face. This could also link to issues around lack of research and investment in new technologies, which can see the quality of treatment dip.
Australian healthcare also faces a staffing issue, caused by severe excess mortality rates throughout covid and a lack of overseas workers. This sees remaining staff overstretched and under resourced. There is also a big disparity between healthcare provisions in urban and rural areas of Australia. Those in rural locations could find it difficult to access the healthcare they require.
33% of those surveyed in the USA stated they felt frequently let down by their healthcare. The US provides a mix of both private and public healthcare, and it is the only developed country to not have a system of universal healthcare. A large portion of people in the US don’t have health insurance due to affordability.
Some issues with the US healthcare system are its complexities and its cost. It can be difficult to obtain comprehensive health insurance and also to pay for treatments.
Many businesses offer health insurance to employees as an added benefit, but often this health insurance does not cover every illness, treatment, or medication. As such, many people who are either uninsured or underinsured risk bankruptcy due to illness. It also means those who are unemployed either have to pay for their own insurance, which can be extremely expensive, or go without. This means lower economic groups are more likely to miss out on quality healthcare.
People can also often find themselves having to pay out for treatment even with insurance. For example, a surgeon and hospital stay may be covered by a policy, but the anesthetic may not be, meaning the individual will have to pay out-of-pocket.