Patients, Politics, and Power: Government Failure and the Politicization of UK Health Care

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Abstract

This article examines the consequences of the politicization of health care in the United Kingdom following the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. The NHS is founded on the principle of universal access to health care free at the point of use but in reality charges exist for some services and other services are rationed. Not to charge and/or ration would create a common-pool resource with no means of conserving scarce resources. Taking rationing decisions in the political realm means that the values and priorities of individual patients are marginalized and the preferences of powerful organized groups able to capture the political process dominate. The key lesson for international health care reform is that the politicization of health care via the NHS has not led to the realization of egalitarian ends but rather has empowered vested and organized interests at the expense of individual patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427 - 444
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008

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