08 September 2016

Health: better late than never

The Economist looks at the UK's National Health Service
A better model [than the NHS]would be to give health providers a budget based on the population they serve, and pay them according to their ability to meet targets of better public health. This would increase the incentives to use new technology that would give patients more responsibility for their own health. If private outfits can do this with a profit margin to spare, good for them. Bitter Pills, the 'Economist', dated 10 September
Quite right. The current system is staffed by dedicated, well-intentioned, hard-working people, but its goals, explicit or implicit, have little to do with raising the general health of the population. In this the NHS is like many other social services: it began at a time when (1) relationships between cause and effect were easier to identify and (2) resources and expectations were constrained, so that only the most urgent and obvious challenges could be met. Times have changed. Society is more complex, time lags more important, and expectations are higher.

Targeting broad, general, health outcomes, and injecting market incentives into doing so, would greatly improve society's well being, as the Economist (belatedly), suggests. My 2013 essay on applying the Social Policy Bond principle to health goes into more detail.

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