Last weekend, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) turned 70. NHS is a protocolical single payer system. Whereas Canada is a single payer system, provinces rather than the federal government makes most decisions and providers (i.e., hospitals and physicians) are private, for-profit businesses. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, both providers and health insurance companies are private, for-profit entities. In the UK, most providers are government employees and while some people have private health insurance, the vast majority are covered by NHS.
So how did the UK celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday? Well, it was a muted “celebration”. The Independent reports:
Tens of thousands of people are travelling to London on Saturday to take part in mass demonstrations against the “deliberate” underfunding of the NHS,
Nurses, doctors, actors and musicians will be among the masses marching on Whitehall on the week the health service turns 70.
Does the UK want to overthrow the NHS? For the vast majority of Brits, the answer is no. Instead they want care that is:
…free at the point of use and available to all, are not undermined by budget pressures which have meant long waits for treatment and rationing of services in parts of the country.
Some have gone so far as to demand the resignation of the prime minister over the NHS budget cuts. Is privatization the solution? Well it may be, but that is not what the Brits want…they were actually protesting against privatization.
In short, while there are merits to a single payer system, these systems are not without their flaws as well.