Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Britain's bloated, inefficient, Stalinist NHS?

According to OECD figures for 2006, the UK spent 8.5% of GDP on health, compared to 15.8% of GDP in the USA.

Of these respective figures, 82% of British spending was delivered through the public system - not surprising, given that most British health care is provided by the NHS. That is to say, 6.97% of GDP was public health spending.

Interestingly, however, in the USA, 45.2% of their health spending was delivered publically. That means, 7.14% of GDP was used for public health (1).

In other worlds, Britain's public health bill is LOWER as a percentage of GDP than in the USA. And the NHS covers EVERYONE for pretty much EVERYTHING you might reasonably need. It's a friggin' beaut of a institution.

Obviously, comparing the NHS to the cabbaged American health system is a bit unfair. But France spent 11.0% of GDP on Health, Germany spent 10.5% - again, using the 2006 figures. Of that, France's public spend was 79.1%, or 8.7% of GDP. Germany's public spend was 76.8%, or 7.72% of GDP. Compared to the British spend of 6.97%.

Even compared to civilized European nations, the NHS is a bargain.

All of which suggests that Nye Bevan wasn't entirely wrong when he suggested the costs of the NHS would dimish over time. he wasn't right, obviously, but the comprehensive public model seems to be delivering good care at a bargain price.
1 - The statistics for OECD Health spending can be verified here: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=HEALTH. 2006 wasn't outstanding in any way - if anything, in the key comparison to the American spending, subsequent years have only seen the gap grow.

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