As an American who moved to the UK a few years ago, I was astonished at the entire concept of an NHS.
I had, of course, for my whole life spent a fortune on health insurance, and despite that, I ended up in endless fights with the insurance companies who never failed to make things as difficult and complicated as possible.
Only a few days after my arrival in the UK, I got a letter from my local NHS ‘surgery’, telling me I had to come in for a standard check up for colon cancer. My prescriptions, which I used to have to go over to Duane Read and fight with the pharmacist there (computer says your insurance won’t cover this, so it’s $254), were not only free, but delivered to my door. What an amazing idea — want an incredible institution.
But of course, this costs money, and the NHS is under constant financial pressure, particularly as Britain, and the rest of the Western world begins to deal with an aging population. Now, the nurses at the NHS are talking about a strike, and who can blame them?
The NHS is funded by the government, but as an outsider, looking in, I cannot help if there isn’t another way to fund at least a part of the NHS. So here is my idea: Make a part of it, at least, for profit. For a lot of profit — but not by charging UK citizens for the service, but rather by expanding its offerings and make it, in a sense, international.
What do I mean?
Britain has fantastic health care, when it works. They have some of the best trained doctors in the world; the best trained staffs; the best facilities. While keeping the NHS intact for the people of the UK, why not offer those amazing facilities to the rest of the world. Of course, you would have to expand the facilities and staffing, but I think the profits would more than cover the expenses.
For example, in the US, a knee replacement costs on average $50,000. In the UK, private knee replacement costs $12,500. That’s a big difference. A lot of Americans go to Mexico, for example, for medical procedures because it is cheaper. Why not come to the UK? And not just for knee replacements, but for everything? Why not make the UK a medical destination for people from all over the world?
That is, bifurcate the NHS — a free service supported by a global paid service for the rest of the world. This could encompass every aspect of medical care. It could also encompass medical schools. Doctors in the US routinely run up debts of more than $250,000 by the time they have finished. Some go to Mexico or the Caribbean to go to medical school. Why not the UK?
The UK is very good at exporting music for profit, it’s very good at making London a financial center of the world. Why not make the UK a world medical destination.
Would this work? I leave it to those who know far better than I, but it’s an interesting idea, I think.