Each individual country is responsible for the type of health legislation that it passes into law. Some countries issue health legislation on a national level, but the health care legislation in other countries is regional or local. The available health coverage and premiums differs substantially from one country to the next.
Many countries today have some form of universal health coverage for its citizens. For instance, most European countries have universal health coverage, which varies to some degree from one country to the next. Most Europeans also have the option to purchase supplemental insurance that covers more than the basic necessary medical services.
Canada passed the Canada Health Act in 1984, which requires universal coverage for all medically necessary hospital and physician services for its citizens. This means that all citizens receive certain services without being responsible for any sort of co-payment. Despite the largely publicly funded health care legislation in Canada, many private institutions provide most of the services. Some Canadians also may have access to private health insurance, usually through an employer.
In the United States, the legislature passed both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act in 2010, which was the most comprehensive health care reform in American history. Some of its key provisions allow young people to stay on their parents’ heath plans until age 26, reject preexisting conditions as a reason for denying or increasing the costs of insurance coverage, expand Medicaid eligibility, and establish a national voluntary health insurance program. The Acts also improve Medicare prescription drug coverage, offer health insurance exchanges to allow individuals and businesses to choose among insurance policies, establish sliding scale subsidies for persons choosing to purchase insurance through an exchange system, remove annual and lifetime coverage caps, and also deem some benefits essential and not subject to co-payments.
Some countries have passed health legislation aimed specifically at mental health issues and care. For example, the United Kingdom passed the Mental Health Act of 1983, which established rules for the treatment of people with mental health disorders. It also governs the involuntary detainment of people suffering from mental health conditions. The United States passed the Mental Health Parity Act in 1996, which prohibited insurers from placing dollar limits on mental health benefits lower than those that they placed on physical health benefits. Canada and Australia also have passed similar forms of mental health legislation.