UK’s Pride – The National Health Service
The United Kingdom’s publicly funded National Health Service (NHS), which was introduced in 1948, is frequently said to be the envy of the world. The NHS provides the majority of health care for all elements of society within the UK and provides cover for everything from basic health care services (through a network of local family doctors) to a full accident, emergency and hospital service. Additionally, it provides a whole range of other care services including elderly care and care for the mentally ill. It even provides dental care.
US Medicare Program
By contrast the US federal government presently assists the elderly with some of their medical care through the Medicare program and also assists low income groups through a series of jointly funded state Medicaid programs which are administered at state level. However, these programs cover only a proportion of the population and with the steadily rising number of elderly citizens and with Medicare costs rising at 7% every year the US may not be able to sustain these programs, let alone expand them.
Who Has Heath Insurance in the US?
Approximately 85% of the US population carries some form of health insurance today, much of which is provided by employers and a variety of government agencies. However, this leaves close to 50 million Americans without any form of health insurance, with those who live in the western and southern US most likely to be uninsured.
The State of Health Care in the US Needing a Cure
Most surprising of all perhaps is the fact that the United States, which many regard rightly or wrongly as the world’s richest nation, is ranked far below the average of developed nations for its health care performance by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Time will show the direction in which health care in the United States is headed but the health of its people is fundamental to the growth and prosperity of the nation and Congress is eventually going to have to accept that a total overhaul of the nation’s health system is going to be necessary.
At the end of the day this will almost certainly mean adopting a publicly funded health care system and, even if this does happen, it is going to be years away and it is not going to help the average citizen today when it comes to finding suitable health insurance. In the meantime therefore we will have to make the most of the system we have and sift through the many choices available to find the solution that best meets our individual needs.