National Health Insurance in the UK and CNN

August 6th, 2009 | Healthcare Reform | Market Approach | Regulatory Matters

Let me say that I enjoy Lou Dobbs and his independent streak, even if I do not agree with him. However, the Report on the UK health system tonight contained critical errors that need to be corrected.  First off, the Reporter (Kitty Pilgrim)  from the UK made the clearly incorrect statement that all health costs were paid for by the government :"All health services are publicly funded by the National Health Service, funded by taxes." This is wrong. As my May 25, 2009 post on this BLOG indicated, I lectured in the UK earlier that month about private health insurance and its impact on physicians. There is a rapidly growing private health insurance market in the UK because of the shortcomings of the National Health Service. On top of that, and sorely lacking from the CNN Report, there are a large number of PRIVATE hospitals, many of them operated by the American healthcare company HCA – which has the largest share of the private hospital market in London!

When the segment shifted back to the studio the Reporter (Kitty Pilgrim) indicated that if you purchase private health insurance, you have to opt out of the NHS:"Some in the U.K. have decided to opt out of the national health system and pay for private medical coverage. It is available. But anyone taking on private medical care has to opt out of the national health system, so a telling point is in the last decade some British companies are actually offering private health care as a recruitment perk for their employees…" – WRONG! My understanding is that the majority of the private health insurance policies actually INTERFACE with the NHS, in a manner not dissimilar to the way Medicare Supplemental Insurance interfaces with Medicare. For example, you may have to wait 6 weeks before claiming benefits under a private policy in order to see if you can get the same treatment from NHS.

The CNN Report also mentioned that France had one of the highest levels of private insurance after the US. Not surprisingly, the French Insurance Company AXA has the 2d largest share of the UK Private Health Insurance Market. After all, France is merely a Chunnel-ride across the Channel. Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

The other major private insurer is BUPA

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