During the debate tonight, Bernie Sanders said (from the Washington Post's transcript):

We need...a health-care system that guarantees health care to all people as every other major country does, not a system which provides $100 billion a year in profit for the drug companies and the insurance companies.

What definition of "major countries" is being used?
Has Sanders personally elaborated on what he means by "major country?"

  • 3
    Major country = All countries using metric units.
    – asmaier
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 14:05
  • @asmaier: that is, all countries expect the US and Burma. Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 17:06
  • @Quora Liberia. Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 17:25

2 Answers 2


Bernie Sanders tweeted the graphic below in April of 2019, it was accompanied by the following text (emphasis mine):

Every other major country has made health care a right for all. Anyone who says the United States cannot do the same is selling the American people short. #MedicareForAll

Lists Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.A.E., United Kingdom, but not the United States as having "universal health care.

While not a definition, the examples speak for themselves. Indeed, the G7 countries as mentioned by o.m. are in graphic, the other major countries mentioned in that answer are all notably absent from the graphic.

Also, some of the countries in the graphic aren't that major, for example Iceland has a smaller population and GDP than Senator Sanders' own state of Vermont.

  • 1
    @KeithLoughnane I think many countries on the list have different systems combining public and private healthcare insurance. For example, the Dutch system has private insurance with those who cannot pay for it getting subsidies to get insurance, which is mandatory to have. In turn, the government negotiates prices with drug companies and health care providers so it ends up a lot cheaper than it is in the US.
    – JJJ
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 13:17

You can expect truth in campaign speeches, but not scientific definitions. For an approximation of major countries, try the G7.

Of course the G7 misses China, India, Russia, Brazil, which are quite important in the 21st century world.

  • Canada: Yes.
  • France: Yes.
  • Germany: Yes.
  • Italy: Yes.
  • Japan: Yes.
  • UK: Yes.

Those "yes" are never absolute. Some procedures may be covered, others may require co-payments or are not covered. For instance, France has just decided to stop funding homeopathy, Germany requires co-payments for dentistry, etc.

  • Might be worth pointing out that the four BRIC countries aren't included in the G7 because they're either not rich enough (R) or industrialized/developed enough (BIC). Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 11:32
  • 3
    This seems like a pretty reasonable definition of major countries. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 13:21
  • 71
    "For instance, France has just decided to stop funding homeopathy" The question was asking about health care, not quackery. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 22:40
  • 2
    Also the G7 feels like a bit of a cherry picked list - specifically to exclude those that don’t have nationalised healthcare. Adding the list for BRIC countries wouldn’t hurt.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 8:29
  • 1
    @Tim, there is no official, legal definition of "major country." But on context, would any US candidate take the Indian or Chinese health system as a goal to emulate? Re dentistry, I explicitly gave that as an example (for Germany) that there the "yes" is not 100%.
    – o.m.
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 8:32

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