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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The British Attachment to the NHS

Why was so much time devoted to the National Health Service (NHS) in the opening ceremony for the Olympics?:

Why the National Health Service played a central part in the Olympic Ceremony, by Simon Wren-Lewis: ...What is perhaps not understood outside the UK is that the British regard the NHS as an institution on an equal par to our monarchy. Not beyond criticism, but seen as absolutely essential to national life. While many aspects of the 1945 post-war social transformation have been swept aside (nationalization of utilities) or greatly modified, the idea that the health service should be free to all and paid for through taxation is sacrosanct. ...
Is this attachment to the NHS national self delusion? ... The NHS embodies a principle that in critical matters involving health, all members of a society should be equal. Overall the UK is not a particularly equal society, and income and wealth inequalities have been growing, but this is one area where there is a strong national consensus that while additional income should mean that you contribute more to a health service, this does not entitle you to receive better treatment.
Do the British pay dearly for this attachment to equality in health provision? If you look at measures of quality or efficiency, the UK does reasonably well (for example here or here), but what does appear consistent is how badly the US performs in terms of efficiency. ... So what seems more likely is that it is the US aversion to government involvement in health provision that is a little delusional. ...

    Posted by on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 12:42 AM in Economics, Health Care | Permalink  Comments (88)


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