The following information comes from “The Healing Of America, A Global Quest For Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care” by T. R. Reid, published in 2009, a book the Watchdog whole heartedly recommends.
(New York Times book review: “ ‘The Healing of America’ blends subjective and objective into a seamless indictment of our own disastrous system, an eloquent rebuttal against the arguments used to defend it, and appealing alternatives for fixing it.” )
1) “The British National Health Service… is dedicated to the proposition that nobody should ever have to pay a medical bill. In the NHS, there is no insurance premium to pay, no-co-payment, no fee at all, whether you drop by the GP’s [general practitioner’s] office with a cold or receive a quadruple bypass from the nation’s top cardiac surgeon.”
2) “The Brits …pay through a network of taxes that would make Americans cringe; the sales tax in the UK runs from 15 to 17.5 percent, while income and social security taxes are higher than America’s in every income bracket.” (Editor’s note: The Brits recently increased the sales tax to 20%.)
3) “It is a model for any country that wants to provide quality care at low cost. One key reason, of course, is that no-fee funding mechanism. With no bills, no billing offices, no bureaucracy needed to file or review insurance claims, the administrative costs at the NHS are small – about one-fifth those in the United States. “
4) “A general practitioner is paid by a system known as capitation – that is, she gets a set fee for each person registered with her practice. This creates a clear economic incentive for the doctor to practice preventive medicine – another proven money-saver for any health care system.”
5) “…GPs in Britain generally make more money than the specialists – on average, about twice as much.” In the UK, the majority of physicians are GPs. In the USA, the preponderance is specialists.
6) The National Health Service stipulates the range of medications, tests and procedures unlike in the USA where decisions are made, in large part, by insurance companies. There is recognition that there is not a limitless supply of funds to provide herculean care to the advanced aged and the terminally ill. Emphasis is placed on preventing illness. In part due to “capitation” instead of “fee for services”, the health of the general population in the UK is superior to the population in the USA. But if you are 90 years old, don’t expect to get a knee replacement.
7) Malpractice insurance is under $5,000 a year, in large part because a doctor cannot be sued if he /she follow the health service guidelines.
For most matters, access to a general practitioner and emergency care is at least as rapid as in the USA. There are delays in seeing a specialist, but no longer than the Watchdog experiences in Lancaster.
Although not fully recognized as suchy, almost half of health care in the USA including Medicare, Indian Affairs,and federal prison system follow the UK model with commendable results!