British Experience Shows Problems with Government-Run Health Care

January 20, 2014

Many in Britain are beginning to question whether the country should continue its National Health Service (NHS), says Cal Thomas, columnist for the Washington Examiner.

Under the NHS, Britons have suffered for decades.

  • Already, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence determines whether new medicines can be approved in Britain, but most recently, the agency has sparked concern with its plan to license new drugs only if judged by NHS to "be a benefit to wider society."
  • A recent European Commission report found that Britain has fewer doctors per person than nearly every other European country (that's only 2.71 doctors for every 1,000 people).
  • In fact, the United Kingdom ranks behind even Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia in the European Commission's rankings.

And while the NHS was intended to reduce the number of people who seek emergency room (ER) treatment, emergency room visits are actually up.

  • Some patients actually visit the ER up to four times per week, with the BBC reporting that "nearly 12,000 people made more than 10 visits to the same unit in 2012-13. A small number of those -- just over 150 -- attended more than 50 times."
  • Meanwhile, President Obama said that the Affordable Care Act would lower ER visits in the United States, but studies already indicate that newly insured are visiting emergency rooms at more frequent rates.

Chairman of the council at the British Medical Association, Dr. Mark Porter, described NHS's problems this way: "A growing and aging population, public health problems like obesity, and constant advances in treatment and technology are all contributing to push NHS costs well above general inflation."

Thomas warns that the United States could learn something from Britain's experience with a nationalized system of health care.

Source: Cal Thomas, "British Experience with NHS Reveals Ills of Government Health Care Programs Like ObamaCare," Washington Examiner, January 15, 2014.

 

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