The COVID-19 has tested the capacity of health care systems to provide care and support to patients around the world. The United States (U.S.) health care system struggled in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the swift response of the Korean health care system.
The U.S. healthcare system can learn the significance of universal healthcare coverage from Korea. In Korea, 97 percent of the people are covered under the government’s National Health Insurance program (Maizland & Felter, 2020). The coverage allows people to access urgent situation care, pharmacy, and dental care services. The U.S. has failed to achieve universal health care coverage, as about 8.5 percent of the population is uninsured (Maizland & Felter, 2020). The low coverage affects access to health care services.
The Korean health system has no well-developed primary care system for the vulnerable, low-income population, and the elderly. Therefore, Korea can learn more about effective primary health care programs from the U.S. Per Vogenberg & Santilli (2018), the United States has a dedicated primary health care system provided under Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans programs. The services are offered to vulnerable communities, low-income individuals, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.
The Republic of Korea’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was quick compared to the U.S. The government rapidly developed free diagnostic tests, designated specific hospitals for patients, and mobilized the private sector to provide medical supplies for the public as soon as the country reported its first case. The U.S., on the other hand, failed to dedicate hospital capacities for patients and did not mobilize the private sector to deliver medical supplies after the country reported its first case. Moreover, diagnostic tests were not promptly done because the initial testing kits provided by the CDC were faulty, further delaying the testing process. The quick response was effective in reducing the number of deaths. Derek (2020) reports that, in the month of April, South Korea reported 85 deaths against 62,000 deaths reported in the United States. Furthermore, the tests conducted by end of February 2020 showed that South Korea had 3,700 confirmed cases while the US had 74, and in May Korea has 10,806 confirmed cases while the United States has over 1.24 million confirmed cases (Berger, 2020). The disease has effectively been managed in Korea.
The effectiveness of a health care system is evaluated based on how it handles a pandemic. Korea implemented prompt response plans to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the U.S.
Berger, M. (2020). How South Korea successfully battled COVID-19 while the U.S. didn’t. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-south-korea-has-done-correctly-in-battling-covid-19#January-19:-The-same-starting-point.
Derek, T. (2020). What’s behind South Korea’s COVID-19 exceptionalism? The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/whats-south-koreas-secret/611215/.
Maizland, L., & Felter, C. (2020). Comparing six healthcare systems in a pandemic. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/comparing-six-health-care-systems-pandemic.
Vogenberg, F., & Santilli, J. (2018). Healthcare trends for 2018. American Health & Drug Benefits, 11(1), 48–54.