My husband, Charles Kesler, and I have spent the last several Christmas holidays in London. Each year, the news headlines about the National Health Service (single-payer British style) seem to get worse and worse. I often save the articles to use as fodder for my writings. Here are just a few:
- “Tory call for new taxes as patients face A&E delays” – The Times, 1/5/2018
- “Patients dying in corridors and on makeshift wards, A&E chiefs warn” – The Guardian, 1/12/2018
- “Patients are urged to get on ferries and Eurostar for treatment in Calais amid NHS’s winter crisis”— The Daily Mail, 1/12/18
- “Flu admissions triple as NHS crisis deepens” – The Daily Telegraph, 1/5/18
- “Socialist Paradise: British National Health Service Cancels 50,000 Surgeries” – The Daily Wire 1/5/18
Few people know that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) was the world’s first single-payer system established in 1948. And it’s obvious from these headlines that its promise of free, universal health care has gone unfulfilled. But instead of opening up the health care market and increasing competition to serve more Britons, the NHS continues to do the opposite – ration care.
Just last year, two of the NHS’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)—local health authorities responsible for planning and commissioning health care services for their area—announced that anyone who was overweight or a smoker would be denied non-urgent surgery.
Moreover, the Independent in London has reported that “an increasing number of CCGs are using similarly discriminatory policies. Other recent policies had required patients to be in varying degrees of pain, while some CCGs had imposed bans on surgery for several months to save money.”
For many Britons, New Year’s resolutions of losing weight and quitting smoking are not just made in the spirit of better health – their health care now depends on it.
Sally Pipes is the Pacific Research Institute’s President, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy.