On the U.K.’s National Health Service, every person is covered completely. There are no bills, deductibles, or co-pays. In fact, there are no insurance policies to speak of. The system is paid for by taxes, and the government controls the prices of drugs and the salaries of the doctors.
“It’s like an unwritten constitution. There’s nothing to renew. It’s all there and it’s free,” said Jennifer Dixon, the chief executive of the U.K.’s Health Foundation, at Aspen Ideas: Health, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.
There are some downsides to the NHS, Dixon noted. There’s an 18-week wait for an elective surgery, and it’s very difficult to find an NHS dentist. Still, the NHS spends much less per person than the American health-care system does, yet it achieves better outcomes, according to the Commonwealth Fund.
Dixon, who was previously a policy adviser to the chief of the NHS, was speaking alongside Marit Tanke, who is the head of strategy and innovation at the Dutch health-insurance company VGZ . The two women spoke about the differences between the U.S. health-care system and that of their own countries. Though the Netherlands’ system is different—it’s not single-payer like the NHS—it, too, achieves near-universal coverage through close government regulation.