US Medicare Vs. UK - NHS

Comparing US Medicare with UK - NH Service

It’s in the news a lot about the ills or failures of the National Health Service in the UK, the reason why President Obama has taken on his critics head on by addressing congressional leaders. The President has embarked on a nationwide campaign to build momentum behind healthcare reform after a congressional speech that failed to win over Republicans but succeeded in firing up Democrats. What makes this Medicare policy such a divisive issue in America, and why is it seen as socialism? When the policy is clearly to lift millions of Americans out of poverty, is it the service in theory or in practice that made us so angry? Why is it wrong for the richest most powerful country on earth has millions of poor people dying from poor health, curable diseases, and rotten teeth every year because they cannot afford Medicare? We are willing to fork out billions on warfare and spend billions on expensive rocket to outer space, yet cannot agree on a national system where tax payers dollars go towards ensuring all have access to better health. The claims about a national programme has been so distorted that no one knows where the lines between lies and truth lies. The rumor mongers have launched national campaigns, TV adverts and marches to counter the plan. The president now have no alternative but either shelved it, which would give ammunition to his critics for claims of “unworkable waste” or continue to fulfill his election manifesto and prove critics wrong.


Is a social insurance program which is administered by the government which provides health insurance cover to people who are aged 65 and over, or for those who met other special criteria for the service. The Medicare program already funds residency training for the majority of physicians in America, and operates as a single-payer health care system. The Social Security Act was passed by Congress in1965 and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in July of that year. As the bill was signed President Johnson registered former President Harry Truman as the first Medicare recipient presenting him with the first Medicare card. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a component of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), administers Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). Along with the Departments of Labor and Treasury, CMS also implements the insurance reform provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The Social Security Administration is responsible for determining Medicare eligibility and processing premium payments for the Medicare program.


The Chief Actuary or insurance statistician in charge of CMS has responsibility to provide accounting information and cost-projections to the Board of Trustees in order to assist them in reviewing the financial health of the program. By law also the Board is required to issue annual reports on the financial status of Medicare Trust Funds, and the reports are required to contain a statement of actuarial opinion by the Chief Actuary. From the start of Medicare program, the board contracted with private companies to operate as intermediaries between the government and medical providers. These contractors are generally appointed from the insurance or health care field, and the process comprise claims and payment processing, call center services, clinician enrollment, and fraud investigation. The system is financed in part by payroll taxes imposed by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act of 1954. The employees tax contribution is equal to 2.9% (1.45% withheld from him, while the employer paid a matching 1.45%) of the wages, salaries and other compensation in connection with work. Before 1993, the law provided a maximum amount of wages, etc., on which the Medicare tax could be imposed each year.By 1994 however, this compensation limit was removed. A self-employed person, pays the whole 2.9% tax net of earnings, but half this tax can be deducted from the income calculated for income tax purposes.

National Health Service

The National Health (NHS) is the publicly-funded healthcare system in England (though the term is also used to refer to the four national health services (Wales, Scotland and northern Island) which made up the UK. The NHS provides healthcare to anyone normally resident in the United Kingdom with most services free at the point of use for the patient though some charges are associated with eye tests, dental care, prescriptions, and many aspects of personal care. The NHS has formulated a constitution which sets out the legal rights and responsibilities of the NHS, its staff, and users of the service and makes additional non-binding pledges regarding many key aspects of its operations. The NHS provides the majority of healthcare in England, including primary care, in-patient care, long-term healthcare, ophthalmology, and dentistry. The National Health Service Act of 1946 came into effect in1948. However, private health care has continued parallel to the NHS, paid for largely by private insurance and is used by a small number of the UK population, more like an add-on to the NHS. The British Medical Association (BMA) says that since the onset of the twenty first century the private sector is increasingly used by the NHS to increase capacity, a move opposed by the public. The NHS is largely funded through general taxation including a proportion from National Insurance payments. The Department of Health is responsible for the NHS and is headed by the Secretary of State for Health, appointed by the government of the day.

Health Proposals

Commentators believes that bringing supporters and opponents together to agree his plans for Medicare will either brake or make President Obama, as his approval rating has sunk to its lowest levels since the onset of the Medicare proposals. Are their any common ground between the NHS and Medicare? If Medicare came about will it have any of the elements of the UK systems entailed? The US census bureau reports that the number of uninsured people in the US is sky rocketing yearly going from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008, mainly due to unemployment and the recession, which forced many to stop their payments. Obama intent on regaining lost ground after a summer dominated by attacks on his healthcare proposals from Republicans and rightwing talk show hosts, delivered a fresh speech to saying, "We have talked this issue to death," and that, "the time for talk is winding down." Democrats, from both wings of the party, greet the president’s speech with approval, and start to discuss strategy in the wake of the speech. The president won over some Republicans with his speech, but is that enough? With Republican House leader, John Boehner, ignoring the president’s claim that those in existing health insurance plans would not be affected, insisted that millions of Americans with insurance plans would lose out. However Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, is said to be in discussion with Democrats about a compromise bill, and showed displeasure that the president did not used his speech to ditch plan for a public option, a federal government-funded insurance scheme.

Medicare by November

Defeated Republican presidential hopeful Arizona senator John McCain is keen on health reform but reject the package that the Obama camp is putting forward. Urging the Obama to reach out to Republicans, he said, "We need to do it, but it has to be bipartisan." If the two sides reach a compromising deals what will it entails? The president is said to have favored the public option, but liberals should not see this as a deal breaker and should keep their eyes on the bigger goal of extending healthcare to the millions of Americans that have none at present. To sweeten the package for those who already have insurance, Obama said he would make it illegal for unscrupulous insurance companies to deny payment on spurious grounds, such as prior medical conditions. The president hoped that he would have a bill to sign by September but timetable is seen to be optimistic, with weeks of congressional wrangling ahead. Vice-president Joe Biden predicted a bill by the end of November. Will there be a bill, and what will it means for the millions of poor hardworking families in America? Will the plans for Medicare resemble the British system where Americans contribute through national insurance and taxation? Many Americans hope for a just system free from political wrangling which will lift and bring about relief into the lives of hard pressed families. It should not be left for coming generations to sort out the mess; the time has come for a political heavyweight to act. I think Obama is the man who will make that difference. God bless America.

Medicare and the UK NHS 14 comments

Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 5 years ago from A Child of the Universe Author

Thanks for sharing puddingicecream. Of course I agree with you. Life is about perspectives, everyone views things from a different point of view. No two people are alike or else we would all be robots, neither do we all share the same icecream. But despite us all sharing the same planet - opportunities and chances doesen't come to us at the same levels. Some people are men some women, some boys some girls. Some are educators, some have to students, some are inventors, some has got to be the users, some are leaders some has got to be followers or else who would s/he lead? Some are rich so we will undoubtedly have poor. I'm sure you get where this is going...If we share the planet, then we share its resourses. The strong must look after the matter how strong a man is - he does not stands alone, "no man is an Island". Medicare, as is the aim of the NHS is about looking after the interest of the less fortunate. In which case every's a winner!

puddingicecream profile image

puddingicecream 5 years ago from United States

It's a matter of perspective on what you think health care should be. For those who can afford health insurance, they see no reason to use their own money to freely give others health insurance.

Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 6 years ago from A Child of the Universe Author

William, I agree wholeheartedly. The poor in each community will be much better off, those who have more money than the average Americans will not see the need though.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Congress needs to move ahead on universal health care by approving a single payer plan that covers every American. Opposition to single payer is nothing more than greed by the haves who selfishly refuse to lend a helping hand to the have nots.

Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 6 years ago from A Child of the Universe Author

Thanks for your most insightful comments, come back soon, ok?

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

Wow, a very in-depth look at international healthcare. You always hear of comparisons to Canada's healthcare system, but I've never seen an analysis of Britain's. Thank you for this look; I think it provides a lot of insight into America's system!

Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 6 years ago from A Child of the Universe Author

Then we can put the "God Bless America" back into our motto

Samantha 6 years ago

Kenny this is good, the debate is heating up but I think good will prevail in the end. America will have its healtcare reform and then people will see the benefits.

Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 7 years ago from A Child of the Universe Author

People are always afraid of the unknown, and when there is a political twist that makes it worst.

Susette 7 years ago

Why does people fear things they dont know? In Britain above 90% of people are satisfied with the NHS as it is paid for at the tax point, and available to all, more importantly to the most vulnerable in society.

Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 7 years ago from A Child of the Universe Author

Yes Thomas, I think the Republican press and their right wing agenda will not permit this kind of support that will help lift the poor out of poverty.

Thomas Royale 7 years ago

I think this is a great idea, despite the misgivings of the far right. Seems anything to help the poor is viewed through the lenses of communism, what a tragedy that some people with eyes remains blind.

Kenny MG profile image

Kenny MG 7 years ago from A Child of the Universe Author

Thanks Jeanette, I too thinks he's got a good heart, but it seems middle America cannot accept something that will help he poor

Jeanette 7 years ago

I think the Obama Administratiotn wants to give more hope to the poor

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