Would European style social health insurance be the answer to the problems of the NHS?

For many years now proponents of “alternatives” to the publicly-funded and largely publicly-provided NHS have been cheerleaders for social insurance systems in other countries as a way to deliver healthcare to the masses.

This is the line taken by speakers from the obscurely-funded right wing Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the equally obscure ‘1828 Committee’, whose key parliamentary supporters include the failed Tory PM Liz Truss.

The 1828’s ‘Neoliberal Manifesto’, published jointly with the Adam Smith Institute in 2019, condemns the NHS’s record as “deplorable” and states: 

“We believe that the UK should emulate the social health insurance systems as exist in countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany … among others.” 

Politicians backing such systems are looking for ways to minimise public sector funding and maximise the role of the private sector. They argue that the NHS as launched in 1948 is ‘out of date’ – but want to replace it with a social health insurance system … dating back to 1883!

So how do these social insurance systems stack up under analysis? Are they really what we should aspire to?

Full story in The Lowdown, 5 July 2023