What Countries Have the Most Robust Healthcare Systems?


Most countries around the world have a systemised healthcare system of some kind or another. Although some lean more heavily towards privatisation, like America, others focus heavily on social models intended to provide a breadth of general coverage. Here we’ll take a look at a few of the international healthcare systems with a reputation for being the most robust in the world.

The Top 11

In 2021 a large study was concluded assessing the healthcare quality of those countries with the greatest reputation for good healthcare in the world. Published in 2022, the ranking system was based on five key categories ranging from matters of access, procedure, administrative efficiency, equity, and final health outcomes. The range of health care systems on display were quite varied, but the final scores resulted in the following ranking.







United Kingdom




New Zealand










United States


There are four major models for health care systems: the Beveridge Model, the Bismarck model, the National Health Insurance model, and the out-of-pocket model. While in theory these models are quite different, in reality most countries blend these four models together in varying ways and at varying degrees.

The Bottom of the Best: The United States

The United States was ranked last in four of the five categories. The only category they excelled at was in care procedure, specifically in the areas of preventive care, care safety, and coordinated care. America, being a heavily privatised country with an overwhelming emphasis of health-insurance being tied to occupation and a cultural push for all industries to turn a profit, failed in many areas due dominantly to these factors.

America’s system is predominantly an out-of-pocket model, although in theory it has a smattering of the Bismarck model in its employer-based health care plans – that is when the hospitals, specific doctors, specific treatment plans and paramedic services are all successfully covered by the same plan. Aside from the US, countries with similar systems include India, China, Africa, South America.

Fall of a Giant: UK

In 2017, the United Kingdom had taken first place in the rankings, but now it has fallen to fourth place. The UK uses the Beveridge Model, focused around a single-payer national healthcare service that centralises health care as a public service provided by the government. Through this system the majority of healthcare workers are government workers.

Other countries that use the Beveridge Model include Italy, Spain, New Zealand, and Cuba.

The Best of the Best: Norway

Although other countries took first place in certain categories – such as Australia in health care outcomes – Norway was above the average in all respects providing the best overall performance. Norway’s health system scored number one overall health care, taking the top spot from the UK. Their National Insurance Scheme (NIS), or Folketrygd offers near universal healthcare coverage, and that contributed significantly to their overall scores.

Like the UK and other Scandinavian countries, Norway predominantly uses the Beveridge model. The Nordic healthcare model is not free, but it is heavily subsidised. Public sources of funds account for 85.5% of all health expenditure.

The Best of the Best: The Beveridge Model

Although it may look like the Beveridge Model offers the best and most robust outcomes, this was not always guaranteed. The ascendency of the Beveridge Model was questioned on the basis of concerns as to whether or not it could withstand an epidemic like Covid. Even the World Health Organisation in 2011 suggested that in the case of national emergency the Beveridge Model might fail as public income decreased and health services declined along with it. However, the Beveridge model proved surprisingly resilient, and the fact that the Beveridge model has remained in the top place has addressed many of these questions and concerns of its critics.

While these studies do not automatically mean that the Beveridge model is the best system in all cases, its continued success puts it in good standing going forwards as a robust healthcare system that successfully provides for all of its constituents in a way that other models simply do not. The next study – likely concluding in 2025 – will show whether or not the Beveridge model can stand the test of time in a changing economic landscape. In the meantime maybe other countries that are on the back foot might take a look at these models and see how best to emulate them for the greater good of their country.

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