British Healthcare

The PBS show “Frontline” filmed an episode on the “Sick around the World”. The program’s correspondent T.R. Reid, flew around the world to take a look at five other healthcare systems; the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland. He spoke to doctors, citizens, and health economists about the levels of coverage, the amounts of uninsured, doctor salaries, patient premiums, and if their citizens ever go bankrupt as do ours because of their medical bills. Near the end of the episode he explained what he thought to be the three most important similarities between the healthcare systems he examined:

          1) Insurance companies must accept everyone and can’t make a profit

          2) Everyone must purchase insurance while the poor are subsidized

          3) Health providers must deal with fixed prices.

Medical bankruptcy is unheard of in any of those countries examined. Most of those countries had a system somewhere in-between government or market run. Britain’s healthcare is run as a part of the government with its employees on a government payroll. Other countries such as Switzerland were largely market run but with government interventions designed to keep healthcare affordable and available for all. Japan’s health system is private; with private doctors and private hospitals but prices are set and coverage is universal. The German healthcare system is covered by different sickness funds which employers sign up for. The Taiwanese healthcare system was designed much later than the rest and has facets from all of the above. I want to discuss Britain’s healthcare system more because it is so different from our own.
The healthcare system of Britain is a bureau of the government; the National Health Service (NHS). Physicians are government employees who enjoy six figure salaries while still able to enjoy extremely generous bonuses (~$180,000) if their patients enjoy better health outcomes. In the British model a citizen seeking healthcare must first see their general practitioner (GP) who acts as a “gatekeeper” into the healthcare system. While the general practitioner in America has been facing hardships and isn’t a specialty considered by very many medical students because of its historically lower salaries, the British GP “…can’t complain”; they are responsible for on average 1800 people. There is hardly any wait to see a GP but operations can have wait periods of a couple months. Britain is a western and technologically advanced country. Its medicine is biomedically founded just as ours is in America. But while we generally see a physician when we feel sick, Britain’s see their physicians much more regularly. Preventative medicine is key in their country and GPs promote a plethora of health behaviors.

All information/facts/figures come from:

Frontline: Sick Around the World, Public Broadcast Station,

https://video.pbs.org/video/1050712790/

4 thoughts on “British Healthcare

  1. I found this show/episode very interesting. As obvious as it is that our healthcare system needs an overhaul, and as much as people are trying to do so, it was made even more obvious just how far off we are. Even the countries who’s health systems are essentially broke are better off than we are here in America. Maybe we need to take a hint from these other countries. Switzerland, was like us and changed (for the better). And Great Britain has an extremely similar set up to our own yet are far better off.
    Great Britain health care is so similar to that of the United States, that both operate in the professional sector; their doctors both either work in clinics or in hospitals, prescribing drugs, ordering x-rays, and performing surgeries, keeping patients healthy. All doctors, whether in the US, Great Britain, or elsewhere, care for their patients, and professionally the job is the same.
    Yet, there are some differences. Mainly, the costs of such medical care. In the United States, health care cost money, and lots of it. In Great Britain, health care is free. In addition, Great Britain’s healthcare, being government funded (& employed), seems thoroughly credible, effective and legitimate. They use a heavy focus on preventative care, to keep patients healthy (and their pockets heavy), people see the doctor far more regularly than the average in the US, and they are seen by specialists if & when they are needed. Its not like the games played in the US health systems: between doctors offices, with insurance, or simply by patients who can’t afford the medical bills.

  2. One similarity between the U.S. healthcare system and the British healthcare system is the concept of the gate keeper. As described in the post, British citizens must visit a general practitioner before making an appointment with a specialist of any kind. This is also the case with some insurance providers within the U.S. For example, a patient with Health Plus insurance must first seek the professional opinion from a general practitioner before seeking further specialized treatment of any kind. However, some other insurance providers, such as McLaren Health Advantage, do not have the same stipulations.
    One difference between the healthcare in the U.S. and the healthcare in Britain is the emphasis on preventative medicine. General practitioners in the U.S. do not receive a bonus as a reward for bettering the health of their patients as they do in Britain. I believe this is actually a very good idea, because the U.S. healthcare system is generally more focused on the treatment/curing of progressive illnesses rather taking precautions to avoid illness in general.

  3. One similarity between the U.S. healthcare system and the British healthcare system is the concept of the gate keeper. As described in the post, British citizens must visit a general practitioner before making an appointment with a specialist of any kind. This is also the case with some insurance providers within the U.S. For example, a patient with Health Plus insurance must first seek the professional opinion from a general practitioner before seeking further specialized treatment of any kind. However, some other insurance providers, such as McLaren Health Advantage, do not have the same stipulations. Also, both the British and the U.S. healthcare systems exist within the professional sector.

    One difference between the healthcare in the U.S. and the healthcare in Britain is the emphasis on preventative medicine. General practitioners in the U.S. do not receive a bonus as a reward for bettering the health of their patients as they do in Britain. I believe this is actually a very good idea, because the U.S. healthcare system is generally more focused on the treatment/curing of progressive illnesses rather taking precautions to avoid illness in general.

  4. One similarity between the U.S. healthcare system and the British healthcare system is the concept of the gate keeper. As described in the post, British citizens must visit a general practitioner before making an appointment with a specialist of any kind. This is also the case with some insurance providers within the U.S. For example, a patient with Health Plus insurance must first seek the professional opinion from a general practitioner before further specialized treatment of any kind can be used. However, some other insurance providers, such as McLaren Health Advantage, do not have the same stipulations.
    Although the British require individuals to see their general practitioners before they see a specialist, there is typically not a wait for medical attention. In the U.S. with the recent changes in the government, a prolonged wait for medical attention may ultimately be a problem in the future and individuals may have a long wait before being seen by their physician. Lastly, both the British and the U.S. healthcare systems exist within the professional sector.
    One significant difference between the healthcare in the U.S. and the healthcare in Britain is the emphasis on preventative medicine. General practitioners in the U.S. do not receive a bonus as a reward for bettering the health of their patients as they do in Britain. I believe this is actually a very good idea because the U.S. healthcare system is generally more focused on the treatment/curing of progressive illnesses rather taking precautions to avoid illness in general.

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