Why the British love the National Health Service

Source: Andrew Street, The Conversation, December 14, 2016

The Second World War left the United Kingdom in ruins and in debt, yet just three years later in 1948 every household received a leaflet telling them that they were entitled to free health care. This marked the birth of the National Health Service, funded from general taxation and available to all according to their clinical needs, regardless of income.

By and large, the same arrangements remain today. Satisfaction with the NHS has increased over the past few years, with 60 percent of those surveyed in 2015 saying they were quite or very satisfied with the NHS.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s recent survey, 63 percent of those from the U.K. said the NHS worked well.

In contrast, only 25 percent of those from the U.S. said the same about their health system. ….

International comparisons show that the NHS outperforms other countries, including the U.S., in terms of quality of care, efficiency, access and equity….

….The U.K. currently spends 9.9 percent of GDP on health care, with 80 percent of this spending on the NHS, the remainder being private health expenditure.

This places it 12th among the 35 countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But the U.S. takes the top spot, total health spending amounting to 16.4 percent of GDP.

The higher level of spending in the U.S., though, doesn’t translate automatically into higher levels of health. Life expectancy is lower in the U.S. than the U.K., and people in the U.S. have higher rates of chronic disease than those of the same age in the U.K…..