Lebanon’s healthcare system: Comparison to the U.S.

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April 19, 2024
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Lebanon’s healthcare system: Comparison to the U.S.


Healthcare systems have a significant share of the GDP of many world economies today. Due to the emergence of many strange diseases, there has been a great need to invest in medical technology and to avert resource inadequacy so that healthcare systems can satisfactorily serve populations. Consequently, it has been more challenging for healthcare officials to competently provide healthcare services due to the complex health environment today. This paper presents a comparison of Lebanon’s healthcare system to that of the United States in terms of their strengths, weaknesses and funding issues. Despite its shortcomings, Lebanon’s healthcare system offers a lot of benefits to the United States in terms of knowledge and investment.

Healthcare in Lebanon

The government funds the healthcare system in Lebanon through the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) (Ibrahim & Daneshvar, 2018). Ordinary citizens of Lebanon who have the NSSF identity can receive inpatient healthcare as long as they pay the monthly subscription fee for NSSF. The patient or maybe the hospital could pay full treatment amount and later have the amount reimbursed by the National Social Security Fund.

Lebanon has both private and public healthcare facilities all over the country. The clinics and pharmacies available are well equipped with medical instruments and medical staff who can communicate either in English or French. However, private healthcare centers are generally more equipped and are in a position to offer better healthcare services than their public counterparts. The main contributing factor to this difference is the low quality of some public hospitals that have been neglected by the government. In such facilities, services can be profoundly poor with low professional standards.

Issues facing healthcare in Lebanon

Lebanon has endured various challenges within its healthcare system primarily due to political instability, economic downturns and the population crisis caused by the Syrian refugees. Since the year 2011, when war broke out in Syria, there has been a disturbing influx of refugees from Syria entering Lebanon. By the end of the year 2015, there were already more than 1.5 million refugees not taking into the count over 50,000 returning Palestinians (Ammar et al., 2016). These figures represent the highest density of refugees in the world. Most of these refugees are housed in refugee centers which are prone to heath attacks and disease outbreaks. The influx of refugees causes a strain on the already limited resources for quality healthcare provision to the Lebanese. When the refugee crisis began, the UNHR offered free healthcare services, but the numbers soon became overwhelming, forcing the United Nations body to introduce a two-dollar charge for all patients requiring medical attention. The commission also lowered its cost coverage percentage to 75% up from 85%. Healthcare funding in Lebanon is mostly strained also because the Ministry of Health is facing an inadequacy of funds. Payment of medical staff and sustainment of medical activities in the country has been difficult. Despite these weaknesses, the strengths of the Lebanese healthcare system lie in the strong private sector which has taken up to 80% of hospitals in the economy. Due to the dominant private sector, there has been an improvement in service delivery, and the nation has generally experienced a good supply of beds and medical technology.


Comparison with the United States

In the United States, healthcare is paid for in various ways. The federal government covers military personnel and veterans while Medicare covers the old, low income earning mothers, children and the disabled (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2019). Children are also protected through the State Children’s Health Insurance program. Most of the employed Americans receive medical coverage from their employers or through other managed plans like the Health maintenance organization. This implies that many Americans have medical coverage from more than one health insurance plans. This is a significant strength of the US healthcare system as compared to that of Lebanon where medical coverage is limited due to the inadequacy of funds and medical resources.

In the United States, medical technology is more advanced than in Lebanon. This implies that the government spends a lot more annually to sustain healthcare in the country. In 2016 alone, the costs of healthcare were estimated at 3.3 trillion USD, higher than the Lebanon figure which stood at 4 billion USD. Similarly, the GDP percentage spent on healthcare is higher in the US than that of any other nation in the world. The United States healthcare GDP percentage was 17.9 while that of Lebanon was about 7%. The main negative factor about healthcare in the United States is that higher spending equals higher national debts.


In conclusion, the United States healthcare system is better than that of Lebanon in terms of quality and the number of beneficiaries. The affordable care Act has reduced the number of people uncovered with health insurance in the United States, but the conditions may as well change in 2019. Even though Lebanon has been crippled in terms of healthcare, the United States can benefit from them in terms of knowledge especially with regard to how the country has been resilient in dealing with the refugee crisis that strains healthcare resources. The U.S could implement the same strategies used by Lebanon should it be faced with an adverse refugee crisis. Also, Lebanon has a robust private healthcare sector. The United States could benefit from this by investing in Lebanon’s private sector through the provision of more advanced medical services. Such an investment could help the country in raising more funds to provide insurance coverage for more US citizens.




Ammar, W., Kdouh, O., Hammoud, R., Hamadeh, R., Harb, H., Ammar, Z., … & Zalloua, P. A. (2016). Health system resilience: Lebanon and the Syrian refugee crisis. Journal of global health, 6(2).

Ibrahim, M. D., & Daneshvar, S. (2018). Efficiency analysis of healthcare system in Lebanon          using modified data envelopment analysis. Journal of healthcare engineering, 2018.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2019). The U.S. Healthcare financing system. Retrieved        from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/nichsr/edu/healthecon/02_he_01.html