European commentators on US healthcare are often misguided in their description of the American system as a ‘free market’ model – when that system involves significant levels of government regulation and funding. Equally, American commentators are often misguided in their accounts of ‘socialist’ healthcare in Europe. Europe contains a diversity of healthcare systems. Some, such as Switzerland are based predominantly on private insurance while others such as Germany and France combine elements of public and private funding and supply. The one European healthcare system that might genuinely be described as socialist is that of the United Kingdom. In the UK system of compulsory ‘free’ health provision, competition and the price system have been almost entirely eliminated from the patient-provider relationship, and even co-payment schemes which allow citizens to ‘top-up’ public funding with their own savings of the sort that are widespread in continental Europe, are prohibited.

Both European and American citizens have got much to fear from any move away from their current ‘mixed’ systems to anything approaching the UK model. The following extract comes from a report by an independent ombudsman charged with examining the quality of care for the elderly under the UK’s ‘National Health Service’.

Read the rest of the article on the Pileus website.

Mark Pennington is the author of Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy.

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IEA Fellow of Political Economy

Professor Mark Pennington is a fellow in Political Economy at the Institute of Economic Affairs and is also a lecturer in Political Economy at King's College, London. Mark holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, has been published in a number of publications and is co-editor of The Review of Austrian Economics.