According to the film ‘Salud’, physicians reside within the neighborhoods that they are supposed to serve (Gorry, 2009). The Cuban healthcare system focuses mainly on preventive services and execution of rapid treatment whenever patients are admitted to hospitals. Effective emergency responders to cater for unexpected events such as earthquakes have also been trained in Cuba.
There are several Cuban doctors who have been dispatched to over 100 countries across the world. Some of the countries being served by Cuban doctors include Venezuela, Central America, South Africa and Gambia. These are fulltime medical experts. However, the US doctors can only be dispatched to destinations that demand specialized emergency care on short term basis (Gorry, 2009).
Free medial training is offered to students from the United States, Latin America, Africa and other parts of the world. Although Cuba is a poor nation compared to the US, it trains medical personnel at no cost. This is not the case with the US. There are no private healthcare systems in Cuba since all the healthcare establishments are run by the government (Carrol, 2007).
A robust private sector orientation is one of the strengths of the US healthcare system. A private system ensures that product manufacturers can continually undertake medical innovation with the aim of improving both quality and access to healthcare for individuals who are well covered by medical insurance. For example, there is a great level of flexibility for employer-based insurance because it is easy to adjust the system at any time according to the changing healthcare dynamics (Institute of Medicine, 2003).
On the other hand, coverage controlled by the employer cannot be possessed by an employee due to lack of portability. Therefore, employees attached to short term employment contracts may suffer as a result of this weakness. Moreover, incentives for prevention are minimal because several workers often shift from one job to another on a regular basis.
Rapid escalation of healthcare cost is yet another weakness of the US healthcare system. This has been worsened by expansive coverage due to the federal tax exemption advanced to employers (Institute of Medicine, 2001).
The best way the US system can be transformed is by adopting a market-based system through a well planned incremental approach. This will improve healthcare efficiency. The federal tax law can be reformed in such a way that open-hand arrangements are avoided. The latter can be replaced by the use of vouchers. Regulatory regimes can also be created by individual states so that coverage rules and regulations are controlled at the local level.
There are quite a number of aspects in the Cuban healthcare system that the US healthcare ought to adopt. For instance, it is vital to note that the Cuban healthcare system is significantly affordable to patients compared to that of the United States. Cuba spends about US$5.49 for in-patient hospital stay per day (Carrol, 2007).
On the other hand, the United States healthcare system demands approximately US$ 1,994 to sustain an in-patient for a single day in hospital (Institute of Medicine, 2003). These are remarkable differences in terms of healthcare costs between the two countries. The US healthcare system should embrace ways of reducing the cost of accessing medical care and also improving quality. Even though the US healthcare system is costly to healthcare recipients, quality in some healthcare institutions is till below the expected standards.
As much as importation of some medical merchandise takes place in Cuba, a significant amount of medical goods are still manufactured locally. However, the cost of labor is lower in Cuba than the US. If the United States can lower the cost of labor and improve local production of vital medicinal products, then access and quality towards healthcare will equally be boosted (Institute of Medicine, 2001).
In addition, personal effects such as water, food, hypodermic needles and bed sheets can be brought by patients into hospitals as it is the case in Cuba. When patients are allowed to take care of basic personal expenses, the government healthcare systems will lower the cost of operations by a remarkable margin.
Carrol, R. (2007). Economic crisis boost to health of Cubans. London: The Guardian.
Gorry, C. (2009). Salud! Cuba’s Medical Diplomacy. Retrieved from http://www.lahabana.com/content/salud-cubas-medical-diplomacy/
Institute of Medicine (2001). Aligning payment policies with quality improvement. In crossing the quality chasm. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.
Institute of Medicine (2003). The healthcare environment and its relations to disparities. In Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.