Going Global: Compare Supplemental Health Insurance Worldwide

In the UK, we’re blessed to have a solid foundation of public healthcare. Other developed parts of the world are not so lucky. That’s why it’s important to take a step back and look critically at supplemental health insurance not only in the UK, but also abroad. 

As you likely already know, there are both benefits and drawbacks of private healthcare, or supplemental health insurance. In this guide, we’ll analyze the supplemental health insurance options worldwide to see how our own coverage stacks up. In addition, this will give you an idea of where health insurance might be going in the future. 

United Kingdom

First, let’s talk about how private health insurance works in the UK. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) offers medical treatments for all residents. This coverage helps with anything from doctor’s appointments at NHS centers to emergency care. As long as you’re permanently living in the UK, you can get free coverage through the National Health Service. 

That being said, dealing with the NHS isn’t always easy or convenient. Waiting lists are often long, resources are stretched, and specialists are hard to find in a timely manner. That’s why there’s been a recent push for private supplemental health insurance. These programs offer quicker access to specialists, shorter waiting times, and sometimes even better facilities. 

While NHS might not be perfect, we can all agree that free services are generally better. That being said, more access to private supplemental plans might be in store in the near future as more patients look for comprehensive, accessible care. 

United States

The United States is frequently the source of debate around healthcare. With a fully privatized system, it’s easy to see why a lot of people are critical of the way the U.S. handles rising healthcare costs. In the USA, the majority of individuals and families get health insurance coverage through their employers. They’ll need to pay for a portion of this premium out of their own paycheck, and there will likely still be gaps in coverage. 

To fill these gaps that health insurance doesn’t always include, many Americans purchase supplemental health plans. These cover services like vision, dental, life insurance, and so on. Luckily, supplemental health insurance is significantly more affordable than traditional healthcare, making it more accessible. 

Another challenge in the USA is how to find health insurance as a self-employed person. With privatized healthcare through the employer, most entrepreneurs were left trying to figure out how to find an independent plan. Luckily, there are now more options than ever. Find out how to buy group health insurance for self-employed workers in this guide. 


Germany is one of the EU nations that has a fairly well regarded healthcare system. There’s the government-run program (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung also known as GKV) as well as private health insurance (PKV). Through the government-run insurance policies, you can get coverage for most things, however most private care will not be covered. 

If a German resident wants coverage for a private room in a hospital or surgery from a private doctor, they’ll either need to pay out-of-pocket fees or have a private health plan. A lot of Germans choose supplemental insurance to help cover any costs related to travel, accidents, disability, and so on. Because a lot of benefits come through employers, many freelancers and self-employed workers look for their own supplemental plans.


Finally, let’s take a look at Japanese healthcare. In Japan, all people living in the country are required to have either employee health insurance or the country’s national health insurance. This enrollment can only be waived if you work for a non-Japanese employer. 

Both the employee health insurance and national health insurance cover 70% of hospital bills. In general, this is a functioning system, and the remaining costs of care are generally very affordable. There are some supplemental insurance options through private insurance companies, but most of these are designed for travelers who don’t intend to stay in Japan for a long time. 

The Future of Supplemental Insurance

It’s easy to see that health insurance is vastly different depending on where in the world you’re located. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the right plan for you, whether you’re satisfied with public options or you’re looking for more coverage. The good news is that the insurance landscape is always changing. 

What do you make of these other approaches to supplemental healthcare? Which option sounds like the best in your opinion?