The Beveridge Model of Health Care

Part three in a six part series about the health care systems of countries around the world

The founders of the Beveridge system of health care, Lord William Beveridge and Nye Bevan, were both men influenced by Marxist ideas and took the route in life of fighting for what they saw as social justice.

As it has been put, Beveridge was the architect of this system and Bevan was the builder. This is the system that is most commonly associated with the United Kingdom, where it has been present for more than six decades.

British citizens are very proud of their National Health Service (NHS), which is the cornerstone of the Beveridge model present there. This is a government-run institution that provides hospitals and doctors to all citizens, who in return do not pay any bills. On the flip side, taxes in the UK are far more substantial than in the US. Take for example a hefty 17.5 percent sales tax.

The Beveridge model is government funded but there are also private options available in the UK. Because British hospitals are notorious for being drab and bleak, some citizens opt for private hospitals that are much more fancy and attentive. Only a small percentage of the population takes this route, though.

Rumors about the NHS concerning longer lines, extended waits for elective surgeries and the system being more communal than individualist are true to an extent. However, citizens have been overwhelmingly in favor of it. Margaret Thatcher, the famous conservative politician who was a major political power in Britain for many years, deregulated many aspects of Britain. She didn’t dare touch the NHS, for the citizens would never have allowed it.

In T.R. Reid’s book, The Healing of America, which has been the basis for this series of articles, he points out that this is generally the system that is alluded to when American politicians refer to “socialized medicine.” While Canada’s system shares many common features with the Beveridge model, there are some key differences that we will see in the next article of this series, which will be published in the Oct. 28 edition of the Torch.

I have realized that no system of health care is perfect. There will always be a trade off, whether it be more citizens covered with longer waits, a more expensive system with a higher quality of care for a smaller number of citizens, or doctors in countries with regulated or nationalized systems making less money than American doctors.

These are the essential concerns that we are facing in America right now. When I cover aspects of the American system later in this series, it will be clear that it is far more complicated and muddled than any of these other systems. It is not likely that politicians or American citizens will turn out in favor of a Beveridge model, but I think that reform will take place in some form, and rightfully so.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series, to view the rest of the articles, visit the links below:

  1. The Health Care Debate
  2. Health Care: The Bismarck Model