Universal Mediocrity

In his new piece for City Journal, Dalrymple attempts to explain why Britons view the NHS so favorably when the data show it actually compares poorly to other countries’ systems across many measures. One reason, he says, is that people judge it from the standard not of quality but of equality:

The NHS was founded on the principle that health care should be allocated according to need and not according to ability to pay, so that treatment, paid for by general taxation, should be free at the point of service. In this way, the health of the poor would come closer to equaling that of the rich.

He points out that health outcomes in Britain have become less equal and not more so, but he also says this is not necessarily a bad thing, since overall improvement is more important than equality.

But the point is that one of the claimed vindications of the system is that it is egalitarian in effect. Clearly, it is not. What is striking in Britain is the persistence of the idea that the NHS is egalitarian, even while journalistic and governmental laments at the widening health gap between the rich and the poor grow ever louder.

Read the whole thing here

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