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Amid the election-year debate over the future of health care in America, the PBS NewsHour explores the state of the U.S. health care system and how it compares to others worldwide.

United States

Houston, Texas, represents the two poles of health care in America — a hub of medical innovation and cutting-edge clinical care, alongside millions of uninsured Americans suffering from treatable, preventable diseases.

WATCH: Is U.S. health care the best or ‘least effective’ system in the modern world?

QUIZ: What does health care cost around the world?
How does the U.S. stack up to the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Australia in terms of health care prices? Take this quiz to see for yourself.

POLL: COVID-19 has eroded confidence in the U.S. health care system
Since the pandemic began, more than a third of Americans — 35 percent — feel their health care system is below average worldwide. That’s up from 25 percent in February.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to the beloved National Health Service, a single-payer system paid for by taxes that covers everyone, but which also leaves some non-critical patients waiting for care.

WATCH: Should U.S. look to UK’s single-payer National Health Service for next health care moves?


Switzerland is often held up as a model for American health care: everyone in the country is covered by a network of competitive private insurance plans. Premiums are expensive, but care is top-tier. And polls show the Swiss love their system.

WATCH: How Switzerland delivered health care for all — and kept its private insurance


Australia has created a successful “hybrid” model: a robust, public system of taxpayer funded health care overlaid with a private insurance market. While younger people are moving away from private insurance, the overall system still achieves universal care and exceptional outcomes.

WATCH: What the U.S. can learn from Australia’s hybrid health care system


When people debate how to fix the broken U.S. system, Canada invariably comes up. Born out of need in a time of economic crisis, Canadian Medicare ensures that if residents receive any form of hospital care, they’re billed nothing.

READ MORE: How Canada got universal health care and what the U.S. could learn

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