Welcome to the second installment of The Health of Nations (though it's the first one to sport a clever title). I'm your host, Ezra, and I'll be taking you on a deadly-dull tour through England's health care system. An uninteresting topic set in a country known for its dullness, should be a party. And speaking of the party, you don't want to show up not knowing anybody. So if you missed yesterday's edition on France, you might want to give it a look-see.
Da' Basics: Britain's health care system finds its roots in a document called the Beveridge report. The report argued that the health care system Britain had in the 40's -- which covered about half the country and used political patronage as its sorting mechanism -- should be combined with the rest of the country's fragmented social programs and administered in a uniform way. Thus the National Health Service was created.
The NHS is mostly funded through taxes -- 82% of it is, to be exact. Of the remaining, 13% comes from employer-employee contributions (much like Social Security) and 4% is user fees. Unlike France, Britain's health care system is entirely separate from employment, and there's no distinction between its social insurance aspects (covering those who contribute) and its public assistance aspects (covering those who need it). The system simply takes care of everyone on British soil.