The NHS is something that everyone alive in the UK right now has had the benefit of for their whole lives. While there is no evidence that the NHS is to be abolished any time soon, many people are concerned about NHS reforms and privatisation, and some are even worried that the NHS as we know it may soon be a thing of the past. Again, this doesn’t seem to be an immediate threat, however with so many things changing as a result of Brexit, it is well worth considering what a future in Britain without free universal healthcare might be like, were we to end up with a model similar to the one in the US where health insurance becomes an essential rather than a luxury.

    • More Use of Employee Health Plans

At the moment, many employers offer their staff healthcare plans as part of their benefit package. This tends to happen more regularly in ‘white collar’ jobs, but some other big businesses offer these kinds of plans to people like retail workers too. The benefit to a business in offering this even while the NHS is an option is that they theoretically lose less productive days by enabling staff with conditions that prevent them from working but can take a long time to be seen with on the NHS (for example non life threatening problems like back pain) to get help quickly. It can also be a good incentive that helps them recruit people, because many people like the idea of having access to private hospitals and fast treatment.

Of course, people who have these plans tend not to use them for everything. If they have an emergency they will still use the NHS, or if they have a minor problem that can be treated by a GP they will still go to their NHS doctor. In a post-NHS Britain, they would claim on their company health plan for every medical requirement, and all businesses would need to offer health plans to all employees to be able to attract staff. This would make corporate policies more expensive for businesses, but would also make employment more desirable in an age where more and more people are choosing to be self-employed.

    • More Focus on Retirement

It is a well known fact that we tend to need the NHS far more in old age than we do during our working lives, and so senior citizens would need to make provisions to be able to afford health insurance as part of their retirement plans. At present, there is already a concern that most people aren’t well prepared for retirement, and in a post-NHS Britain there would be an even stronger reason to start putting money into SIPPs and other pension plans to ensure it will be easy to get healthcare in old age. New retirement plans that include healthcare may also become popular financial products.

    • New Benefits

In America, a lot of people can’t afford health insurance, and this would also be the case in the UK. People who are unemployed or otherwise cannot afford health plans would need to be taken care of, and this could mean new benefits. It is most unlikely that a post-NHS Britain would not provide for people who can’t access private healthcare on their own, so things like long term disability and jobseeker benefits would probably be modified to include some kind of healthcare provisions, potentially paid for by National Insurance contributions.

It is unlikely that a post-NHS Britain would leave people with no access to the care they need, however most people would probably need to go through more bureaucracy than there is currently to claim their treatment either through insurance or benefits plans. It would be overly regressive for Britain to move from free universal healthcare to a pre-Obamacare American system where many people can’t get healthcare at all, and so no government would introduce this. Instead we would more likely see a switch to more focus on employee health plans to reduce the burden on the tax payer, and the government catering to everyone else.

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