Some British Lessons on ‘Single Payer’ Health Care


Congressional sponsors of “Medicare for All” single-payer legislation—bills abolishing virtually all existing public and private health insurance—routinely promise that all Americans will get equal access to higher quality care and enjoy superior medical outcomes.

Performance, however, is the acid test of sound policy. While the U.S. “single payer” experience is limited to the Veterans Administration program, recently plagued by headline-grabbing care delays, working models of national health insurance can teach Americans sober lessons in government-controlled health care.

Look at the British crisis. Consider Britain’s National Health Service, established in 1948. In 2017, the British House of Lords issued a stunning report on the state of the NHS. It concluded, “Our NHS, our ‘national religion’, is in crisis and the adult social care system is on the brink of collapse. No one who listened to the evidence presented by a vast array of expert witnesses who appeared before us can be in any doubt about this.”

That evidence has been building for decades, and recent high-profile cases show that the British crisis is chronic. In the October 2019 issue of the Annals of Surgery, one can check out a comparative study of English and American in-hospital mortality between 2006 and 2012. more

10 Comments on Some British Lessons on ‘Single Payer’ Health Care

  1. Wait a minute. The British House Of Lords, which is less than 1/2 conservative (in Eurospeak, that means only center left) said that the NHS is on the brink of collapse? Why haven’t I heard of this before?

    Nevermind, I answered my own question (can you say msnbc, nbc, cbs, abc, ap, the various British papers, and even fox?)

  2. Abolishing all insurance is actually the only way to bring down actual costs, but it must be abolition of ALL insurance, especially Medi-care.

  3. “Washington policymakers should take decisive steps to lower health costs….”

    Funny how one of the first things Hillary Care would have done was to greatly restrict malpractice suits. Imagine what would happen to the cost of health care if they did that. That and not give free health care to illegal aliens.

  4. I hear something about Trump negotiating some kind of deal with the US. Whatever it may be the British press are bound to reject it.

  5. I read the article and it’s actually pretty badly written. The premise is how much better the US system is than the UK one and proceeds to not quote any numbers except for one place. There they show 7 radiologists per 100,000 people in Britain, 12 in the EU and no mention of how many per 100,000 in the States. It’s similar everywhere in the article. Another example is how much worse the cancer survival rate is in Britain as compared to the US but again, no figures. I presume the US system has better outcomes (for example the US has a great early cancer detection rate but a lot of that is due to defensive prescribing because of the rate of litigation) but if the author had put some hard figures in about where and by how much the US was better it would have made for far more of a convincing read.

  6. The article also fails to mention two huge factors affecting the NHS financial problems (which, after all, are the main reason for lower quality health care). One being the top heavy “management systems’ including procurement of supplies at horrendously over inflated prices and the cost of management personnel, including the requisite but completely redundant corp of “diversity and inclusion” managers. The second being the treatment of anyone who shows up regardless of whether they are British citizens. A regular occurance in British hospitals is the birth of babies whose mothers travel from less enriched countries to give birth and pay nothing.

  7. The author seems to assume the similarities of the US and Britian Western healthcare structure are more significant and implies the British single payer is only an anomaly. Even though the article does state how the single payer system retards medical advancement, it does not indicate this is a principle devastating effect.
    It’s general knowledge, for those paying attention, single payer is a economic money pit disaster, compared to a private healthcare market.
    Specifics for example; the wait time to see a physician (appointments), quality of care and hospital and other healthcare facilities conditions/costs, US vs Britian are not addressed.
    These factors are crucial for effective healthcare comparisons.


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