Health Care Reform, British Style

Everyone knows health care in Great Britain is available to all citizens and it is free.

Or is it?

Apparently it is only free until you get old.

It seems the Brits can no longer afford to cover medical care for the elderly and are contemplating a one time charge of 20,000 pounds ($32,720) to pay for care.

“We are proposing a radical reform of care … we need a system that’s fair, simple and affordable for everyone,” Burnham said.

Under the current system, some people have to pay tens of thousands of pounds, or sell their house, to pay for care in old age, since those with homes or savings worth more than 23,500 pounds must pay for their own care.

Fair, simple and affordable for everyone.

Sound familiar?

But what is this about folks having to sell their homes to pay for health care? I thought health care was free.

On average, Britons spend 30,000 pounds ($49,080) for care but 20 percent pay more than 50,000 pounds ($81,800) and those who develop serious conditions like Alzheimer’s can pay more than 200,000 pounds ($327,200).

So apparently the NHS will pay for your health care until you get old and really sick.

Who knew?

“With the ageing population and a diminishing workforce to support the elderly there’s going to be a significant shortfall,” said Gris Glasper, an industry analyst at stockbroker Brewin Dolphin.

“Either the price of care needs to come down significantly or something else needs to be addressed, and that is an increased burden on the individual.”

The U.S. isn’t the only nation with baby boomers. It seems the Brit’s went to war in the 1940’s as well.

“Without incentives or compulsion, this option may prove to be just too expensive to create,” she said. “Unless the national care service provides the services people want, there is a risk that they will not buy into the ‘contract’ and will not pay.”

Compulsory coverage. Sounds familiar.

In addition to the idea of compulsory payments, the two other options proposed are a partnership arrangement, where the state would provide between a quarter and a third of the cost of care, and a voluntary insurance scheme, which would cost individuals 20,000-25,000 pounds.

Change you can believe in.

Yes you can.

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