A healthcare system that is free at the point of delivery has been a part of the UK for decades and it’s often a part of the culture that’s showcased. But recently, there’s been a growing debate around whether the NHS is the best way to meet the demand for healthcare while ensuring standards are kept high and we make the most of medical advancements.
There are several reasons why universal healthcare has entered the public debate. Firstly, there have been numerous headlines commenting on the ‘crisis’ the NHS faces and mismanagement of resources. In addition, the debate from the US, has filtered to the UK. Former US President Barack Obama made steps towards a universal healthcare system, a move that divided opinions, but much of these have been cut back by current President Donald Trump. Trump has even used the UK’s ‘broken’ system as an argument against universal healthcare in the states.
But what are the pros and cons of a healthcare system that’s free at the point of deliver?
Benefits of universal healthcare
- Equal access to healthcare – The core benefit to social healthcare is that it’s accessible to everyone. Citizens don’t have to worry about their health if they lose their job, are on a lower income, or a faced with long-term medical issues. It provides equal access to everyone, no matter their background.
- Improvements to public health – As everyone is entitled to healthcare without having to pay, overall public health is improved across the board. It means that life expectancy increases, and overall quality of life can improve too. In turn, it can reduce pressure on other economical areas.
- Majority of healthcare under a single system – As most healthcare is under a single system, it reduces paperwork and red tape that’s associated with health insurance and privatisation.
- Medical costs reduced – As a universal healthcare provider, it’s possible for an organisation to buy medicine, equipment, and more in bulk, substantially reducing costs.
Drawbacks of universal healthcare
- Potential for medical abuse – A common complaint against the NHS is that it’s open to abuse. From people attending A&E for minor ailments to patients committing fraud, it places extra financial burdens on the system and means those in real need are affected.
- Longer wait times – As everyone is using the same system, there are longer waiting times within the NHS when compared to private healthcare. This also links to the system being open for abuse, meaning that vital resources are tied up when they’re needed. It can lead to some patients seeking private care despite the universal healthcare that’s on offer.
- Increased taxes – While the NHS is free at the point of delivery, it’s paid through national insurance. Having access to a universal healthcare system means more leaving your paycheque every month to find it.
What’s your stance on the NHS and the universal healthcare system in general? Is universal healthcare the best option in the modern world?