The U.S. turns to Britain for health care guidance

Stephen Beard Jan 20, 2011
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The U.S. turns to Britain for health care guidance

Stephen Beard Jan 20, 2011
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Last night, the Republican-dominated U.S. House voted to ‘nix’ health care reform in this country. But Democrats have vowed to end the repeal effort. Now during the health care debate, some supporters used Britain’s medical system as a possible U.S. model. And yet, in the UK, people aren’t entirely happy with it either. Now the government’s just launched a big shakeup.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is with us live from London, to talk about the news, and why it matters to us here in the U.S. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: What’s the problem the health care system is dealing with?

BEARD: The cost, principally. The cost of health care of course is rising everywhere. We’re living longer, making bigger demands on health services, new drugs and new medical technology is adding to the cost. In the case of the UK, tax payers pick up most of the tab, and that tab — the cost of the NHS according to one estimate is going to rise by as much as a quarter over the next three or four years.

CHIOTAKIS: So how are the reforms supposed to address that, Stephen?

BEARD: In a nutshell, the plan is that by 2013, family doctors will control most of the national budget. They’ll decide how to spend the money, according to the needs of their patents. It won’t be politicians and civil servants in London telling them what to do. Here’s Chris Ham, head of the medical think tank, The King’s Fund.

CHRIS HAM: What this government is doing is saying, “Let’s try to decentralize to improve quality and outcomes for patents by placing much more trust and responsibility in the hands of the local doctors and the clinical teams delivering care.

It’s reconned this reform will cut bureaucracy and eventually save up to $10 billion a year.

CHIOTAKIS: Hey Stephen, any lessons for the U.S. as our health care system gets overhauled?

BEARD: The U.S. is taking a different approach from the UK, but certainly this British reform does underline the universal pressure of rising costs and the pressing need to allocate health care efficiently and fairly.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard, in London, Stephen Thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

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