Many people believe that wealthy nations often experience better health outcomes than poor nations (Biggs, King, Basu, & Stuckler, 2010). However, this paper disputes this argument by evaluating the health outcomes of one rich and poor state (the United States and Cuba). Through this assessment, this study shows that although the US is wealthier than Cuba, the latter has better health outcomes. Therefore, this paper argues that “wealthier is not healthier.”
Comparison of both Countries and their Health Problems
Despite being significantly wealthier, America has poorer health outcomes than Cuba does (Koh & Nowinski, 2010). For example, Cuba has a higher life expectancy than America because Cuban residents could live up to 72.5 years, while American citizens could live up to 71.9 years (Campion & Morrissey, 2013).
America’s biggest health problem is its high health care costs (Shelton, Cassell, & Adetunji, 2005). For example, America spends a lot of money on health care (per person) than Cuba does (Campion & Morrissey, 2013). However, like America, the Cuban health care system also has its problems. For example, medicine shortages are common. Similarly, the best health care service is a preserve of the country’s elites (Spiegel & Yassi, 2004).
Comparison of Economic Levels and Income Inequalities and how they have influenced the Social determinants of each Country
Cuba and America do not have the same economic potential. America is significantly wealthier than the socialist state. For example, while Cuba has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of $6,051, America has a GDP per capita of $53,143 (UN Data, 2014). Similarly, Cuba’s GDP is $71.017 million, while America’s GDP is $16.2 trillion (The World Bank, 2014).
These economic indicators show that America’s economy dwarfs the Cuban economy. Both countries also have significant differences in income inequalities. Being a socialist nation, Cuba does not have significant income inequalities (Spiegel & Yassi, 2004). However, America is a capitalist nation with a significant divide between the rich and the poor. For example, the ratio of the average income between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% (R/P) in America is a 15.9 (UN Data, 2014).
Although the statistics on Cuba (regarding the same indicator) is unavailable, experts believe it is significantly lower than the US (Spiegel & Yassi, 2004). These economic indicators and income inequalities have affected the social determinants of health in both countries (Baum, 2008). America’s strong economic position has created an expensive health care model that depends on private insurance and employer-backed payments.
This health care model has created a dependency on curative interventions, as opposed to preventive interventions, as adopted by Cuba. Lastly, income inequalities have also increased violence levels in America. Comparatively, Cuba has fewer health problems that arise from the same cause (Spiegel & Yassi, 2004). These factors show that Cuba has better social determinants of health than America does.
Impact of Social determinants of Health on Each Country
Cuba’s education system significantly affects the country’s health outcomes because it shapes the training program of health care service providers in the country. Unlike America, the Cuban government pays for the education of its health practitioners. Comparatively, American medical students pay for their training (debt) (Kruk, Porignon, Rockers, & Van Lerberghe, 2010).
This system affects their services because they become more concerned with making money, as opposed to providing quality services, as Cuban doctors do. Lastly, high violence rates increase adult mortality in America, compared to Cuba. Therefore, to improve their health outcomes, both countries need to improve their social determinants of health (Jones, 2010).
This paper shows that America and Cuba have significant economic differences. Although America has a stronger economy, and outspends the socialist nation in the health care sector, it has an inferior health system compared to Cuba. This outcome manifests in the poor health indicators that the North America nation has, compared to Cuba. Based on this finding, this paper shows that “wealthier is not healthier.”
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