TODAY'S PAPER
75° Good Morning
75° Good Morning
Opinion

Envying Rwanda's health care coverage

A doctor draws medicine into a syringe during

A doctor draws medicine into a syringe during a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Credit: Getty Images, 2012

Many Americans know that most of the world's rich, democratic countries--Germany, France, England, Canada, Australia, Japan and so forth--have universal health insurance. People in these places don't routinely go bankrupt as a result of medical bills, or die for want of care. Some Americans even know that, while these nations cover everybody, they also spend way less than we do in proportion to their size. And for the most part, their people are healthier.

What most of us don't realize is how many poorer countries also manage to provide all their residents with health care, as this interesting CNN story lays out.

Would you believe that Brazil has free health care for all? How about Kuwait, or Thailand, or Moldova? That's right. All these places, despite their poverty and other troubles, manage to provide universal or near-universal health care for their citizens.

My favorite example is Rwanda, which somehow covers 91 percent of its population. That's a higher rate of coverage than in the United States (around 83 percent). Just think of it: someday, with any luck, Obamacare will help us surpass Rwanda on health insurance. What an accomplishment.

Columns