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The U.S. Should Be More Like … Great Britain?

As the United States begins the process of nationalizing its health care, Great Britain has begun to decentralize and privatize much of its system.

by
Sarah Durand

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August 18, 2010 - 12:00 am
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Just when the U.S. government launches a health care takeover against the will of the people, Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is scaling back. While the U.S. shifts towards nationalizing health care, the UK’s new government coalition announced plans to decentralize the NHS and move towards more privatization.

Last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed huge spending cuts to the health care system. And, just days ago, he announced even more cuts.

One of the biggest changes coming to the British health care system is a plan to transfer power from bureaucrats to doctors and patients — the opposite of the ObamaCare plan. Essentially, the NHS will scrap its top-down system of health care and give money to general practitioners, allowing them to buy services from hospitals and health service providers.

The NHS plans to give hospitals the freedom to privatize, and will remove the revenue cap on private patients. The British government believes that shifting control to the patient/doctor level, and allowing for more privatization, will increase health care quality while lowering costs. These ideas are in direct opposition to the opinion of Democrats in the U.S.

British officials are also eliminating the financial managers who determine how the NHS spends their budget. Instead, they’ll turn to doctors for decisions on how the $159 billion budget will be spent. This shift would eliminate layers of bureaucracy and reduce management costs by 45%. Officials estimate a savings of $30 billion to the health care budget by 2014. The saved $30 billion will go back into the private sector.

While the British government plans to place health care decisions in the hands of the people, the U.S. government is moving in the opposite direction. ObamaCare shifts power from the patient/doctor level with the establishment of more bureaucracy, like the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Under ObamaCare, the IPAB has the authority to make Medicare spending decisions, and to turn those decisions into law without congressional approval.

Contrary to British findings, U.S. Democrats insist that more government involvement will reduce health care costs. But the UK’s nationalized health care spending rose at a higher rate than the increases seen in the U.S. privatized system. Britons spent three times more on health care last year than in 1997 — a significantly higher percentage than the increase seen in the United States between 1997 and 2009.

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