NHS vs US Health

The good, bad and ugly of the American and British health care systems. In an 8/15/09 FT article, Nicholas Timmins gives a brief comparison of the two systems.

In a 9/15/09 PBS program, “Retirement Revolution”, host Paula Zahn spoke with a doctor who has worked in both systems. The doctor summed it up: The British NHS works well for most patients whose disease presents no particularly difficult or unusual complications. The American system, with much more emphasis on advanced technology and public funding for academic institutions, is better for those patients who do have unusual complications.

At town hall meetings this summer, some Americans touted the U.S. health care system as the best in the world, citing the estimated 400,000 people who come here each year to get medical care. An 8/24/09 AP article cites a 2007 estimate that almost twice that number, 750,000 U.S. citizens left the country to get medical care elsewhere. Estimates by the Medical Tourism Board for 2010 are that 1.6M patients will leave the U.S. for care outside the country.

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