Types of Health Systems

There are about 200 countries on the planet, only 40 of which adopt a formal system. Below is a list of the four different types of health care models.1


  • Named after William Beveridge, the U.K. social reformer who helped create the National Health System2
  • Health care both paid for and provided by the government
  • Free at point of service
  • Financed through taxation – sometimes dedicated taxation, sometimes general tax revenues, and sometimes both
  • Examples: United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain, U.S. Veterans Health Administration


  • Named after Prussian Chancellor Bismarck
  • Health care paid for by non-profit insurance firms and provided by public and private actors
  • Financed by employees and employers, generally through payroll deductions; often complemented by general tax revenues
  • Examples: GermanyFrance, Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland


  • Health care paid for by government-run insurance programs and provided by public and private actors
  • Financed through taxation – sometimes dedicated taxation, sometimes general revenues, and sometimes both
  • Examples: Canada (at a provincial level), South Korea, U.S. Medicare


  • Health care paid for by consumers to public and private care providers
  • Little to no insurance coverage
  • This model is used by most low- and middle-income countries
  • Examples: ChadIndia, Rwanda​


1. Physicians for a National Health Program. Health Care Systems - Four Basic Models. Health Care Systems - Four Basic Models | Physicians for a National Health Program. https://www.pnhp.org/single_payer_resources/health_care_systems_four_bas...
2. Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. (2013, October 8). National Health Service. https://www.britannica.com/topic/National-Health-Service

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