Thursday, October 3, 2013

Socialized Medicine: Comparing British and American Attitudes

by Kate Davies (edited by FT)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

With the Supreme Court making ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week, YouGov decided to canvass attitudes from their panelists in the UK and the US –– two very disparate systems –– to find out a little more about socialized medicine versus privately funded healthcare, and to see how participants really felt about their own system, as well as that of their counterparts across the pond.

Both countries are engaged in deep –– and often venomous –– debate over their respective healthcare systems at the moment. In the US, the Act controversially dubbed "Obamacare is dividing opinion throughout the country. In contrast, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been accused of attempting to privatize the National Health Service by stealth.

The NHS, founded shortly after World War Two by British politician Aneurin Bevan, is government-run, and free at point of access to users ––- though not truly “free” at all, since the NHS is paid for through taxation. It may be a system of medical care open to all, but it has resulted in patents often experiencing long delays, and frustrating battles with the bureaucracy while waiting for treatment. The NHS lacks some of the most advanced technologies as well. cancer survival rates in the UK are considerably lower than those in the US. Because of the way it is funded, however, the UK government spends a decent amount of money on preventive medicine, making efforts to keep its population healthy, in the hope that the need for more expensive treatment in later life might be reduced.

In the USA medial care is led by the private sector, with many Americans (and their employers) spending thousands of dollars a year on health insurance policies which, because it is market-driven, allows its users access far speedier access to treatments, and to more advanced methods of treatment. However, access to medical care is not necessarily seen as a 'right' for citizens, as it is in the UK. Arguments against the US system claim it favors the wealthy –– those who can't afford the voluntary insurance payments are often left to only emergency treatment –– without either preventive or palliative care. The very poor, however, generally have access to Medicaid whose provisions vary from state to state, but generally provide a good basic level of care. Fee clinics for the indigent abound all over the USA. 
Both systems are undergoing change –– or at least debating the potential for change. There are clear arguments for and against both systems, but in the spirit of sharing knowledge and opinion we invited YouGov panelists on both sides of the water to tell each other what they thought.

The findings were interesting, with perceptions apparently much more polarized in the UK. Not surprisingly, in a country where support for the National Health Service may be seen as a badge of patriotism, a greater proportion of participants in the UK claimed to view their system as ‘favorable’ than those in the US did theirs. 

Most surprising was the division in how US and British participants viewed each other’s systems. British participants were more likely to view the American system unfavorably than Americans were to view the British system. While attitudes to each other's system (as something unknown) were relatively skeptical among all participants, Americans were generally more pragmatic in their views; more open to the view that the British system might have merit.

According to US participants:
Those who viewed the US system as favorable cited excellent care, modern technology, shorter waiting times and free choice of healthcare providers.
Americans who viewed the US system as unfavorable thought that healthcare in the US was too expensive, and therefore unfair to the poor. And cited problems with insurers who sometimes refused to pay claims.
US respondents who saw the British system as favorable praised the NHS for its universality
US participants who viewed the British system as unfavorable cited long waiting times, a lower quality of patient care, and was overly-burdened with bureaucracy.


  1. Just with regard to cancer, be aware that the USA overdiagnoses in the first place, so those survival rate figures are not directly comparable. I Don't know enough about O'care to judge it, but don't accept patriotism as a reason for positive NHS sentiment - as a people we are fiercely proud of our lack of patriotism.

  2. Just a reminder that the ACA concerns health insurance and not socialized medicine.

    It has taken the right quite a while to figure this out.

  3. I suppose the cartoon at the bottom is supposed to symbolize the British People's plight in dealing with their medical system? I wish I could laugh at the joke, but it's not funny at all. We are busy right now relegating ourselves to the same miserable fate. The British say they love their system, because it's so much fairer than ours, but that's because most Brits are loyal to their country. If they had experienced the high quality care we have had in the United States, they'd soon know how inadequate and poverty-stricken the thing they've been living with since the end of the second world war really is. They'd never admit it even if they knew, because the British have always been excessively proud and chauvinistic. Americans as the article says, tend to be more pragmatic.

    ----------> Katharine Heartburn

  4. You have stated a damnable LIE, Canardo. And you know it.

    Disingenuousness is a primary tactic of the left who tries never to miss an opportunity to distract, mislead and derail debate.

    Please stop. We are IMMUNE to leftist propaganda here, and determined to STAY that way.

  5. In other words NO progressive BS wanted

  6. Just a reminder that the ACA concerns health insurance and not socialized medicine.

    Just a reminder, "insurance" is the means by which private capital "socializes" risk. It is "by definition" socialized medicine.

  7. By point of FACT, the ACA is SUBSIDIZED socialized medicine... in other terms, DOUBLY socialized.

  8. Shutnado Alert! REPEAT Shutnado Alert!

    The official account of Architect of the Capitol is not going to Tweet for a few days.


    The official account of Architect of the Capitol is not going to Tweet for a few days.

    This has been an ALERT of the Emergency Shutnado notification system. Had this been an ACTUAL emergency, the Architect of the Capitol would Tweet on his personal Twitter account using his government provided IPhone and/or BlackBerry.

    That is all. Carry on.


    Their mission is in peril due to the shutdown.

    It is rumored that Obama no longer has the capability to spy on all of his enemies at once, and has pulled all international assets back to the United States to try to close the gap.

  10. Thy just closed the Bedroom door to Hillary's bedroom, word is that Hil and her assistant is locked in for the duration of the Govt. Shut down.

  11. Perhaps I misunderstand socialist medicine. IMO, it would be run by government, funded by government and all private sector, from physician to for-profit hospital,
    to insurance, labs, equipment would be GO-GO: government owned-
    government operated. I suspect this in not the case, even in Europe and the Nordic countries.
    Ours is mixed economy healthcare and it appears the problem is what, precisely the mix should be?



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