Compare U.K. health care model with U.S.

Thank you to Dick Mason for his article (March 23, 2021) covering the recent Union County chapter online meeting of Health Care for All Oregon when Wayne Hill and his wife, Lynn Relfe, reported on their experiences with the National Health Service in England, which is part of the United Kingdom. Since Wayne is my brother, I have more NHS information that I’d like to add to Mason’s fine coverage.

Each NHS eligible person chooses their own family practice group and one of the group’s physicians. When specialists or tests are needed, a referral is made (immediately for emergencies). The NHS in the U.K. fully covers routine care including vision, dental, prescriptions and cancer treatments. A few of the additional services, at no extra cost, include:

1. Ambulance: Members are registered with a local ambulance service, which gives paramedics vital medical information before an emergency.

2. Phone-in service: People can call 111 in the U.K. and receive care from a medical care provider through a telephone office visit (this service has been vital during COVID-19).

3. House calls: NHS doctors make house calls.

The NHS does have some problems. There are non-covered medications and treatments, as with U.S. health insurance companies. Those treatments not covered by NHS are still available — paid for out-of-pocket or through privately purchased insurance.

Purchasing optional private insurance can also speed up elective surgery. However, the patient receives the same quality of care since the same private practice surgeons also work for the NHS.

The National Health Service in the United Kingdom certainly offers its members greater care for less money than the for-profit private system does in the United States.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data published in 2019 states the U.K. spent just $4,653 per person for a life expectancy of 81.3 years while the U.S. spent $11,072, for a shorter life expectancy of 78.7 years.

To learn more about the information presented here and join in the movement to improve U.S. health care, send an email to

Vivian Young

La Grande

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