A market is a place where the exchange of goods and services for money or barter takes place. Trading constitutes the exchanging of goods and services provided in the private and public sector. Some products especially services that are required by the general population are to the public sector. Today, however, all services are provided by both industry, but prices are higher in the private sector (Johnstone, 2016, p. 45). Healthcare is a service required by the public, yet many can barely afford it. The state avails this service at a subsidized price and provides insurance programs that help citizens to pay for the expensive medical facilities. This paper explores the National Health Service and supports the argument against its privatization.
The National Health Service is a program in England, Wales, and Scotland that started in 1948 after the Second World War. Its objective is to provide a unified healthcare that is all-inclusive and free at the delivery point. Today, people in the United Kingdom can access various medical services including rehabilitation. It does not charge the residents for most medical treatment, it has employed a significant number of people, and its annual budget is approximately one hundred and twenty billion euros (NHS, 2016, p. 66). Additionally, NHS is free for non-residents at the time it is used such as emergencies but does not cover hospital admissions. Following the benefits the NHS provides to many people, it is possible to argue against its privatization for a variety of economic and social reasons.
The NHS program offers a range of medical services to both residents and non-residents. Most of these medical treatments are free for the inhabitants and emergencies for non-residents. Dental services are charged due to the diversity of procedures used to treated different dental problems. Economically, NHS makes accessibility of medical services cheaper (NHS, 2016, p. 100). Since most people cannot sufficiently cover medical bills, the program eliminates charges for simple health care procedures and emergencies. Besides, complex services are subsidized by the annual amount allocated to this program. For the users, NHS is economical and accessible. Privatizing NHS would make less affordable particularly for lower income earners. The private sector is profit-oriented; therefore, it will charge for all medical services provided to meet this objective.
A counter-argument for privatization of NHS is based on the annual budget for the program. NHS requires a budget of nearly 120 billion euros per fiscal year. This budget is expected to increase by 0.5% per year to facilitate the efficiency of the health care sector. This is a significant portion of the total amount (NHS, 2016, p. 96). Denationalization of NHS would reduce government spending on healthcare and promote allocations of these funds to other departments such as security. Privatization would increase the prices for medical services for high-quality services (HSPM, n.d). Despite the expenses incurred by the state to provide quality health care, privatizing NHS would have adverse consequences on a significant population.
First, medical services would be expensive for lower class people making it inaccessible. The overall health status of the UK will decrease. Additionally, non-residents would be affected though not as significantly as the resident. Secondly, the private sector maximizes profit by minimizing costs. A substantial number of employees may be laid off to minimize the remuneration budget (Pollock, 2014, p. 32). The unemployment level in the UK would also increase thus affecting the entire economy. Besides, money withdrawals from the economy will increase to cover precautionary purposes. This affects savings and consequently investment in the economy.
Privatizing NHS has some social advantages. The private sector is a role model in ensuring efficiency, quality services, and higher performance. In this industry, profits and remuneration packages are the key motivators. This is less evident in the public sector as it is comprised of inefficient organizations, strikes, and poor quality services. The quality of medical services would increase the private industry provides them (Haldenby, 2016, p. 120). This is a benefit to the society. The quality of life will improve. Additionally, it will enhance the satisfaction of citizens with the health services provided (Nuffield Trust, 2016, p. 200).
Nonetheless, the social disadvantages of privatizing NHS outweigh its benefits. First, while minimizing the cost of offering medical services, the private sector will lay off staff. This affects employment in the country. Secondly, charging of services at a higher rate than that offered by the state will affect citizens economically thus their welfare will decrease. People will pay for services they accessed for free (NHS, 2016, p. 88). Thirdly, the low-income earners may not access healthcare frequently since they cannot meet hospital bills sufficiently. The inaccessibility of medical services due to higher charges will affect the general health status. Many, mainly the lower class people, will prefer to avoid visiting hospitals to reduce the costs incurred (Johnstone, 2016, p.44).
The question lies on what to recommend to ensure that NHS is efficient. A part-privatised NHS will increase the quality of medical services through regular and thorough research conducted by medical facilities in this sector. Additionally, it will lessen the financial burden on the state by making residents pay for services provided. However, this disadvantageous to the citizens as some cannot afford medical services. Privatizing NHS impacts negatively on the economic and social welfare of people. Citizens incur higher cost in obtaining medical services thus reducing their disposable income. This effect is transferred to the general economy. Unemployment due to the laying off of workers under the private sector, will affect the economic and social welfare of the UK. Therefore, a part-privatised NHS increases efficiency and quality of healthcare as well as ensuring that the government can subsidize these services thus making them affordable to all.
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