Socialized health care is an American term that describes what other societies call universal health care. It is health care that is provided for the citizens of a country by its government. There are four major types of health care systems implemented around the world, with three of them being universal care systems. These three systems are called the Beveridge, Bismarck and National Health Insurance models. The term "socialized health care" is sometimes used as a derogatory term by some who oppose universal healthcare and is not typically used in other countries.
The Beveridge model of universal health care, started in Great Britain by William Beveridge, provides health care through the use of taxpayer funds and never bills the patients. In Germany, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck created what is now known as the Bismarck model of health care, which uses an amalgamation of non-profit health care funds. Other countries use a system which combines the Beveridge and Bismarck models of universal health care.
While the United States primarily uses the out-of-pocket model of health care, socialized health care in the United States exists in several forms on a less than universal scale. One program is Medicare, a Federally administered program that provides health insurance for the elderly — as of 2012, those over 65 — and the disabled. Medicaid is a health insurance program that is managed by individual states, and primarily serves certain groups of disabled and low-income people. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is a health care program that serves military personnel, and which administrates a network of hospitals. TRICARE is the military medical insurance program that serves soldiers and their dependents.
England's implementation of socialized health care is called the National Health Service (NHS), which is the original and most classic example of the Beveridge system. First envisioned by Lord William Beveridge, the NHS completely covers health care costs for British patients using taxes. Under the NHS, the government manages all health insurance and runs most hospitals. Cuba is the truest form of socialized health care in that it extends the Beveridge model to the point of government ownership of all hospitals.
Germany uses the Bismarck model of universal health care. It is called a multi-payer system because there are over 200 separate health care funds in Germany, mostly non-profit, all of which are strictly regulated. The government runs some of the hospitals in Germany, and prices for services are controlled centrally. Workers and employers alike are required to pay into the system.
Canada's hybrid version of universal health care program is known as the National Health Insurance model. It is called “Medicare” by its citizens and was established by the Canada Health Act of 1984. This is the most well-known example of a health care model that blends the Bismarck and Beveridge systems into one national program. Medicare in Canada is a single-payer system that provides insurance funded mostly by the government using taxpayer dollars to pay for access to mostly privately run doctors and hospitals. Canada also has private insurance options, particularly for dental services, but almost all doctor visits and hospital stays are covered by the Canadian Medicare system.