Sunday, August 25, 2013

National Health Service Failing in England

National Health Service Failing in England

All those enthusiasts of increasing government control of health care may not know that the British healthcare system has been failing for years. 

The British National Health Service (NHS) is the oldest single payer healthcare system in the world. It started in 1948.  Despite decades of experience, the future of the NHS is doubt.

The British Medical Journal, a vocal advocate of the NHS,  regularly reports on the ailing NHS.  Recently they described a NHS funding gap of 45 billion dollars expected by 2020. 

In response to these financial losses, NHS hospitals are trying to make money by offering "private treatment options" for patients. This means you can pay or "self fund"  for services at these hospitals and get those services much quicker than if you just used the NHS approach. 

Here in the US some of us call the single payer approach the "public option". 
In the United Kingdom (UK),  it's the NHS or government health plan. 
For years, in the UK those with money could go to private hospitals to get care quickly using their own money. 

Now, you can even go to an NHS facility.
You won't have to wait too long if you yourself pay for your MRI or chemotherapy or knee arthroscopy.
Otherwise, who knows how long it will take if you try to get this care using your "free" NHS plan. 

Waiting lists are a clear way to ration care and keep costs down. 

In Canada the Fraser Institute publishes the waiting times for surgeries and procedures in that country's various provinces. Waiting months for surgery or an MRI or CT scan is not unusual.

Those with money don't wait, they come to the U.S. to get care.

We definitely have health insurance problems in the U.S..
But looking toward the UK and Canada should inform our policy makers that single payer approaches are doomed to failure. 

Patients will all suffer. In general, most politicians, blind to all but power, do not care.

If you are willing to think and read about this, beyond the mainstream media,  you will find solutions that empower individuals and keep costs down. 
Take a look at Priceless by John Goodman.

Daniel Weiss MD CDE FACP PNS CPI