The United Kingdom’s National Health Service

From across the pond comes this warning via the United Kingdom’s The Times:

There is a truth about modern healthcare that, in the politics of the day, is consistently ignored. Demand will always beat supply. A story could be written every day with the same basic message. There is never enough…

Back in the real world, the pressure on cost is remorseless. A recent report from the King’s Fund and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) showed how the NHS cannot provide a comprehensive service on current assumptions after 2011. To freeze the budget again would require an extra £10.6 billion over the next spending review period. Some of the shortfall could, in principle, come from increased productivity, up to 7.7 per cent per annum, according to the IFS. This is an heroic assumption in a service in which, as the Office for National Statistics recently showed, productivity fell 4.3 per cent over the decade from 1997.

This immediate cyclical pressure is bad enough. It will be a major political headache for whichever Andrew inherits it. But the structural deficit in health spending is even more serious. The IFS has concluded that, even if the NHS budget is not cut in real terms over the next spending review period, funding is likely to fall short of the population’s healthcare needs by more than £30 billion.

That is because the demands we have of the service are now out of all alignment with our willingness to pay for them. There are more pensioners than there have been in any previous era and they are living to the ripe old ages at which they contract expensively treatable diseases. The innovative genius of health scientists has made more diseases treatable, usually with new drugs that are, at least initially, very expensive. It is not surprising that citizens demand all that can be done. In a public system, every citizen is sensitive to pain and insensitive to price.

At the same time, healthcare is getting less effective at preventing conditions, such as obesity and its associated links with diabetes, that are the upshot of dietary and lifestyle choices. The National Health Service has never really been that. It is more of a national illness-fixing service. The health of the nation actually has rather little to do with the NHS and that poor correlation is getting worse, to costly effect.

These are serious problems, but the solutions are not hard to enumerate, even if they are difficult to swallow. We cannot afford all that we can do so healthcare will have to be rationed further. We can do this by price, by availability or by time. Patients can be charged for some services that are currently free; some elective and non-catastrophic services may have to be excluded from the core set of NHS interventions; or people will again have to get used to waiting a long time.

The United Kingdom’s National Heath Service is in trouble.  Not enough doctors, and what care there is available is rationed.  On top of it all, money is the driving factor, not patient care.  Canada is in similar circumstances.

Why do our politicians persist in their belief that a nationalized health care system is possible that can provide quality health service to all?  In reading the bill (and the summaries), it can’t without cost controls, and this means rationing.  This means someone is going to lose out.  Is that person going to be you, your significant other, your parents, your neighbor, or just some poor schmuck that you do not know?

The best question that I can ask our elected officials is:  Are you willing to set aside your enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and join the rest of the population in this grand experiment?  If you are unwilling to subject your family and yourself to the same program as what you are wanting to put us into, then kill this bill and never bring it up again.

You, our elected officials, are elected to lead the American people by example.  If you are unwilling to do this, then step aside and allow someone else that has the intestinal fortitude (and qualifications) to take your place.


About Tom Roland

EE for 25 Years, Two Patents - now a certified PMP. Married twice, burned once. One son with Asperger's Syndrome. Two cats. Conservative leaning to the Right. NRA Life Member.
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8 Responses to The United Kingdom’s National Health Service

  1. Jennifer says:

    Bravo Tom! I asked the same exact question on my post regarding health care. Great minds think alike!! 🙂

  2. Joe says:

    In President BO’s radio address this week, he urged us not to succumb to rumors and innuendo about what will happen if we adopt this health care legislation. He said it would give US control of our insurance companies.

    Like that is going to happen.

    There won’t be any insurance companies.

    We are really in for it on this one.

    It’s like the beginning of the end.

  3. Joe says:

    They not only won’t subject themselves to FBHBP, they don’t even think you should ask “Why not?”
    After all, they’re much more important than the average American…they’re “Cabbages and Kings.” (Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”)

  4. Tom says:

    Jennifer – It’s not a new question, only a common sense one. Why should our elected representatives take it upon themselves to give themselves better healthcare and other perks that the rest of us do not? They are not royalty – they are supposed to be servants of the people that elected them.

    Joe – Succumb to rumors and innuendo? I think not – all one has to do is read what is in HR3200 (providing you don’t have a stroke or your eyes bleed) to find out what our politicians are wanting to pass. As far as the politicians go, they believe themselves to be rulers, not servants, of the people. (I know, I’m repeating myself…)

  5. Kris says:

    I can’t believe anybody would buy into socialized healthcare when it has been proven to be a disaster over and over again. These people are in it for power pure and simple. They don’t care about health or peoples well-being, they just want to take our rights away from us.

  6. The best question that I can ask our elected officials is: Are you willing to set aside your enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and join the rest of the population in this grand experiment? If you are unwilling to subject your family and yourself to the same program as what you are wanting to put us into, then kill this bill and never bring it up again.


    Of course, the elitists, federal employees and our elected representatives at the federal level, won’t lower themselves to the health-insurance standard they are so willing to foist off onto us, the taxpayers.

  7. Tom says:

    Kris – I also believe that this is a power-play by the government to take away more and more of the population’s freedom. It’s about control.

    AOW – My wife used to be a civil servant, retiring after 22 years of service. Her health insurance was very close to what I had in the private sector with Blue Cross / Blue Care. While I do not have a problem with civil servants getting healthcare comparable to what is in the private sector, I do object to the “Cadillac” plans that our elected officials have access to that the rest of the population could only dream of and we pay for.

  8. RaDena says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Tom.

    You left a comment on my blog and I tried explaining to you why we are angry. Well, I can see by this article that was a waste of time because I sure don’t need to explain it to you! 🙂

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