A Liberal Future For The NHS. — February 8, 2012

A Liberal Future For The NHS.

Those crying out for Andrew Lansley to be sacked and the for the NHS bill to be dropped have my full support. But who, and potentially what will come next will really get them worried. If Cameron does bite the bullet and relieves Lansley of his post, there’s only one man for the job, and that man will give the NHS lovers real nightmares.

Of course I am talking about David Laws. Friends and followers will know I’m a big fan of David Laws’ ideology so this will come as no surprise. I think we should drop this piecemeal NHS reform bill and introduce a radical National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as described by David Laws in the Orange Book.

The NHS is almost untouchable in UK politics, its taboo to even talk about reforming it. And yet, it has many flaws that everybody is well aware off, long waiting times, cancelled appointments, endless tiers of bureaucracy are faults that nobody can deny. Yes the NHS is a bastion of free health-care to all at the point of access, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it even better.

The NHIS would be compulsory for every UK citizen. People would be able take insurance out in the NHS, the private sector, or the not for profit sector, allowing for the first time, real competition in the UK’s health-care market.

Insurers would have to accept any applicant, regardless of risk, and every year patients would be allowed to change providers.

All schemes would have to have the same maximum charge for all mainstream services, but additional charges are allowed for extra services or amenities on request, meaning that anybody still wanting to go private (in the sense we know it now) could do so. The state would pay the annual charge for the mainstream services. These points make sure that health-care remains free at the point of access to all.

NHIS would be paid for by altering the tax system in the UK. Currently we have income and national insurance as personal taxes. These would be altered and then a NHIS tax would be included. Crucially the taxes would remain progressive, further enshrining real fairness into the system.

The job of the Secretary of State for Health would be to make sure that independent regulators were doing their job properly. Their role would be to calculate the maximum levy charged by all insurers, and publish performance results of insurers.

Politicians would no longer have to worry about the political graveyard that is the NHS, it would cease to have any influence over it, ensuring that health-care in the UK was dictated by the patients, not politicians.

The scheme is a great idea, it imparts real competition in the health-care service, whilst enshrining fairness at its core. It is a true liberal vision for the future.