Many countries nowadays are struggling to increase the quality of their health services based on the commonly appreciated need for providing universally affordable care. The primary strategies range from state-paid mechanisms to various insurance schemes. In this regard, it is worth considering the system developed in the United Kingdom, which is entirely different from the one traditionally existing in the United States. The British government provides universal care to all its citizens through the National Health Service, which is fully funded by the state. It is basically free, with co-payments normally applicable only to outpatient prescription drugs (Boudreau, 2019). This ensures a relatively high life expectancy value of 81.3 years, exceeding the European Union average (European Observatory, 2019). Therefore, the National Health Service generally succeeds in its mission of protecting the lives of British citizens.
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However, the United Kingdom system does not fully offer the gold standard of care for several reasons. The most critical problem is a workforce shortage, resulting in increased waiting times and rationing of specialized treatments (European Observatory, 2019). Such a situation is similar to the one existing in the United States, although it is less dependent on the socioeconomic status of the patient since the state system covers all the expenses. Besides, the removal of pay-for-performance schemes has resulted in a rapid decline in principal care quality indicators (Minchin et al., 2018). These problems reduce the overall efficiency and require substantial funding for their solution.
The British National Health Service provides a useful example for evaluating and further enhancing the American system. Some of its principles have already been implemented in the Affordable Care Act designed to ensure universal coverage regardless of the patients’ income. Thus, it is reasonable to admit that the countries with a state-financed health care system played a role in creating this policy. However, the United States still needs to increase care accessibility, especially for those with pre-existing conditions. Therefore, the review of the approach applied by the United Kingdom provides some recommendations that could enhance the American system and drive it towards the gold standard of care.
European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. (2019). State of Health in the EU. United Kingdom: Country Health Profile 2019 [PDF document]. Web.
Minchin, M., Roland, M., Richardson, J., Rowark, S., & Guthrie, B. (2018). Quality of care in the United Kingdom after removal of financial incentives. The New England Journal of Medicine, 379(10), 948–957. Web.
Boudreau, R. G. (2019). US universal health care in 2020. Archway Publishing.