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In the News Let's Attack the Brits' NHS!

August 18, 2009

VIEW: Our 10 minute clip about the U.K's 60-year-old health care system. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that critics of Obama's health proposals who say he wants to nationalize America's system point to the alleged pitfalls and failures with Britain's "socialized medicine."

That's sent Britain's politicians and citizens into a tizzy -- sample the Twitter campaign.

This video is from Sick Around the World, with Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid.

Here's a synopsis of the full program (which you can watch online) and a short summary of how things work in the government-run NHS.



We need more programs like this to educate the American public.


Leon Jaferian / August 18, 2009 1:08 PM

Unfortunately, Leon, the American public does not want to be educated. Instead, they want to make a stand on principles like the free market, or the evils of the government (yes, that evil govt that supplies them with the infrastucture to make money in the free market), or their religiosity. That renders them sanctimonious.

A fine example of this is the fella in PA who harangued Senator Spector with the idea that he (the senator) would have to face the judgement of god some day. I guess that guy feels pretty strongly that god is on his side, and that makes him feel good. Irrational, yes, but that is at the core of it; another fine side of religion.

Dan / August 18, 2009 2:26 PM

I agree with you both. We have seen, all too often, the debate on health care overrun by a small, boisterous few. Sadly, their loud opposition has drowned out those of us calling for reform. Programs like this do a great service by informing an otherwise ill-informed American public.

Nick / August 18, 2009 7:49 PM

It is too bad most people believe the propaganda they are fed here in the US and being bred on fear they are completely confused. Why not believe government is bad? Isn't that like Big Brother? But what "they" do not see is how well run the government systems have been compared to private corporations who are slowly or not so slowly bleeding us to death. As far as taxes go we pay very high taxes when you combine all them. During the course of a day we'll pay a gas tax, food tax, meals tax, tolls, tax on goods, and so on. As for Socialism, I am amazed at how ignorant people are about Socialism as if it is Communism. We, the few who are informed, who have traveled or lived abroad and have seen how other countries work and how sheltered this country is need to educate the ignorant.

Ellen / August 18, 2009 10:02 PM

those idiots yelling at the top of their lungs at the town hall meetings are making themselves and the rest of us look terrible. people need to step back and look at the facts and decide for themselves, dont leave it up to msnbc or fox news to do the thinking for them.

mike / August 18, 2009 11:32 PM

I agree with all that has been said in the comments above. Americans in general are quick to point out what we consider flaws or weakness's in a different approach or different method. But sometimes we are most blind to our own mistakes. I think that we need to be more open minded in general to new approaches, especially when our own process has so many well documented problems of its own.

Colby / August 19, 2009 3:12 AM

Perhaps we weren't watching the same report. The NHS in Great Britain is not all roses. The people are required to pay what many here would consider excessive taxes to get taken care of by their government. And Britain is not alone in requiring their citizens to give up a huge amount of their paycheck. The British government employs 1.4 million people to administer the NHS programs,making the NHS the third largest employer on the planet. Governments are inefficient monsters that consume money, and if you think the US government can deliver on any of the promises they make you are sadly mistaken. Medicare, Medicaid, IHS, the VA system, and Social Security have all ended up costing multiple times more than they were projected to, so what is the solution? Create an even larger national healthcare system? Wake up!
Do you really think we can cover 40 million uninsured people and it won't increase the deficit? What happens in ten years when the talking heads tell us how much more expensive this is than they thought? Do we scrap the program? No, they'll come up with a bigger and better one.

Great Britain has 60 million people. We have over 5 times that many, and according to the last election 53% of our population wants to be taken care of by the government. That shouldn't cost much. I hope we don't lose all our rich people.

Neil / August 19, 2009 7:32 AM

This is all fine and dandy but how much are you willing to pay for it in taxes? 40 or 50 percent rate? Or do you expect the rich to foot the bill?

Hilda / August 19, 2009 10:36 AM

We're already paying for the uninsured, just in a very inefficient way, since those uninsured receive care in the most expensive way, through the emergency rooms, and at the worst and most expensive time, when they are already experiencing a health catastrophe that is more expensive to treat. The U.S. spends nearly twice as much of its GDP on health care per capita than the next most expensive country (Canada), at about 16% of GDP compared to 9%, yet we have the 37th best health outcomes, right behind Costa Rica, as I recall.

Why do we spend so much for so little? Part of it could be doctors dealing with literally dozens, even hundreds of insurers to administer their practices, as you can see from how many support staff work in the typical doctor's office relative to the number of physicians. Part of it could be the profit allowed to big insurance companies starting back in the 1980's (prior to that they were not allowed to be for profit businesses). Part of it could be salaries, like the CEO of UHC who made more than $12 million last year, a level of compensation that no government employee, including the President, even approaches. Part of it could be the near monopoly in most areas of the country with one company leading prices and no effective competition to control prices. We know that Medicare's overhead (and that's a single payer system) runs about 3% of expenses, while private insurers have overhead levels ranging between 12% (Kaiser) to 25% of expenses, and that must be part of what we resolve, so we get health care, not bureaucracy, for our health care dollar.

There is no question we need to reform our absurd and cruel way of rationing health care in this country, the question is what form that reform should take. We can argue some areas, but it's time to grow up and face facts so we can craft a solution that will be best for all of us. Misinformation and ignorance of the fact pattern involved only serves to obstruct the process, and is a disservice to us all.

Chris / August 19, 2009 12:33 PM

There is no way we are going to get out of paying a high percentage of taxes for this type of healthcare system. But as a small business owner, I would rather know that the money is going to healthcare for the nation instead of to these private insurers who absolutely squeeze guys like me.

In North Carolina, there was a maximum that your premiums could go up and they hit that every year the last eight years to the tune of 22%. Combined with inflation that is coming, you are going in the hole every day. I personally do not feel that doctors should be business people. They are trained in medicine and I am trained in business. My friend's who are physicians say they would welcome a single payer system (even the specialists).

I think the advertisers on the major networks are influencing the programs and keeping us all in fear on something that should be a basic human right. Oh yes and by the way I am a registered Republican. There are more Republicans that are in favor of this than what the media is letting on. There are more Republican Senators that if told that they were not going to have the federal plan, would not be insured due to pre-existing conditions. They are living in a different world than the rest of us and the only thing I am hearing is problems with what the President is proposing and no solutions from the opponents.

If you ask any Veteran, they are so thankful for the VA which is a government run program. Why can't the rest of us have this type of piece of mind? It should be a payroll tax deduction just like Medicare and make any immigrant moving here have to pay into the system as soon as they start working in the US workforce. What would be wrong with that?

Nate / August 19, 2009 8:48 PM

Sounds good from the report, but UK citizens pay up to 23% of their income into their national healthcare system. That is on top of the traditional income taxes that they pay. They pay dearly for having their system, our population is bigger and we would pay dearly if this system was instituted in the US. After it is all said and done, some Americans could end up with tax rates over 60% easy. We can't afford it.

US Congress should look at creating federal clinics to service the needs of the low-income/uninsured. Then make sure that the illegal immigrants will not have access to the plan.

Although the UK has the primary side well covered, we succeed in having the elective surgery side well covered. The report mentioned that.

I believe, the US needs to repair its system, not throw all of it out the door for something new.

Romney care in Massachusetts is in financial trouble and rationing/waiting lists are occurring, what makes us think if we apply Obama care to 303 billion people that it will work.

Randy / August 19, 2009 10:58 PM

I watched Tommy Thompson (A Bush admin HHS director) debate Elizabeth Edwards on Larry King. He said that if we just give everyone a 5,000.00 tax cut that we can cover everyone. When told by Mrs. Edwards that 5,000.00 would not cover a family and that family plans cost around 15,000.00 per year, he stated that she had her facts wrong and that insurance policies cost 5,000.00 per year. She just shook her head and laughed.

How can we have rational conversations with people who don't know or outright distort the facts. Thompson was HHS director under Bush and is so far removed from reality that he doesn't even know what insurance costs. Republicans are distorters of the truth in order to protect the insurance industry that's lining their pockets.

Obama has the majority and must push this through with or without Republican or Blue Dog Democratic support. These people are there to prevent reform and must be pushed out of the way. I can't believe these "teabaggers" that are willing to vote against their own interests because of some ideological fantasy. Many of them are complaining about government run healthcare while at the same time are on Medicare.

Like Barney Frank said to a woman in my town of Dartmouth, MA last night, "Having a conversation with you is like talking to the dining room table." These people are idiots.

Fred / August 19, 2009 11:20 PM

I am a Canadian. All I can say is thank God for the Government Health Care systems in most advanced countries in the world. You Americans have had the wool pulled over your eyes by the Insurance companies and HMO's. If you are spending roughly 16% of your GDP on health care and Canada is spending under 10% on its health care, do you not think you could design the "Best single pa