"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Friday, 15 April 2011

Tax the sick for being sick

It is instructive every now and again to read what the right wing free marketeers are thinking about, if only simply to "know your enemy".

Today, Andrew Burns posted an article on the 2020Health website. In it he trots out the usual excuses for the reasons for the current government's policy: we are living too long, using too much healthcare and there isn't any money to pay for it. He says:
Patients will have to start taking some responsibility for their health and long-term care. The Dilnot Commission, examining the funding of long-term care and support, which is proposed to be a partnership between the state, individual and families, is due to report in July. It is probable that it will introduce the concept of patients having to take a degree of responsibility for funding arrangements for their post-retirement care, whether this is a lump sum paid at retirement or contribution towards a fund while working. In time, it is likely that a future government will extend this ‘partnership’ concept towards healthcare such as requiring patients to make top-up payments to their treatment, paying for low clinical value treatments and eventually having some form of insurance (a ‘dirty’ word at present) scheme, but with premiums weighted to encourage healthier living such as participation in weight reduction programmes if obese, smoking cessation, regular attendance at diabetic clinics if diabetic, etc
Well, first, I think that the Dilnot Commission will suggest something close to the Burnham solution (the so-called "death tax" that, prior to the 2010 election, Lansley used to distract the public from questioning his NHS policy in detail). What the Dilnot Commission will not suggest is that the government should move to the eventual abolishment of the principles of "free at the point of delivery" and "care according to need" (it is not in their terms of reference), but nice try to give you an opportunity to spout your right wing views.

But more importantly are to give these suggestions in the context of what Burns says justifies them. First he says:
Of course, the underlying reason is money; there simply isn’t enough of it. Yes, improvements in organisation and efficiency are also crucial, but even with these, funding solely through general taxation will never be sufficient to meet the projected demands and maintain high standards of care. 
Then he says:
such as requiring patients to make top-up payments to their treatment, paying for low clinical value treatments and eventually having some form of insurance scheme
Hold on, I thought that he said that there was no money? But then he identifies another source of money: ask people for some more! Hallelujah! He's got the solution, you just need to tax people more, then the cost is spread across everyone, including those that can afford to pay!

Oh no he isn't saying that. He is actually saying that we should ask the sick to pay more than the healthy. He says that if you are ill, you should pay for it twice: first in the discomfort and pain of being ill, and secondly from your pocket. Andrew Burns wants to tax the sick for being sick.

Remember what I wrote yesterday about how ill health can affect your employability and compound the problem of your illness? Yet here is the right wing saying that is a good thing. My compassion for humanity is why I will never associate with such right-wing views.

1 comment:

  1. I think the situation is down to mismanagement of funds and chopping and changing the structure of the NHS and the way it is managed and run.

    There has to also be some individual responsibility taken for ones life style choice. Abuse of the health service by irresponsible people can be seen on a Thursady, Friday and Saturday night in ant A&E in the country. I am not saying they should be refused treatment, but it is a sad state of affairs when drunk and disorderly people take up a lot of the A&E resources and often have caused others to be involved to have to have treatment - viloence, car accidents etc...

    I think all taxes from smokers via the tax they pay on their ciggies, which is a lot, and the taxes from alcohol via the taxes paid on the beverage of choice should all go to the HNS under the provision of medical care and clinical research only. That way real money from those who cost the NHS the most, so our beloved government has said in the past and present time, will be used for such services; of course there are other costs to consider such as the involvement of the police, social officers etc., but one thing at a time.

    Of course another way would also be to charge such inappropriate behaviour at source - a bill for treatment and cost of services because of irresponsible behaviour for instance. That way costs could be freed up for the real illnesses and old age care.

    Care of the elderly has gone from family responsibility first to state responsibility in total. The HNS did not envisage this and like welfare benefits was not meant to take on the role of provider with out family and individual responsibility playing its part.

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