Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care in the United Kingdom

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Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care in the United Kingdom

As you may know, the United Kingdom is a region which boasts one of the best examples of a Universal Health Care system in the world. In fact, many systems around the globe are actually based upon this one. In the UK the system is known as the ‘National Health Service’ or NHS for short. On this page I want to take a little look at the pros and cons of a Universal Health Care System.

Perhaps the biggest pro of them all is the fact that everybody has access to exactly the same health care…for free (sort of). It does not matter who you are. You can rest safe in the knowledge that you will be treated in exactly the same way by the doctors. They really do not care about how much money you have. The con here however is the fact that you are going to need to pay extra in your taxes. It is not a lot. In fact, the tax rate in the United Kingdom inclusive of universal health care is on par with countries that do not actually include health care as standard. It is something that you are going to need to think about though.

Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care in the United KingdomThere is a con however. The universal health care system needs to work for the benefit of all. This means that what it does actually needs to be cost effective. Sadly this means that many drugs which could extend the life of a patient are not available through the system. This is because the NHS believes that the cost far outweighs the benefit. The only way in which people are able to access these drugs is outside of the universal health care system. Now, I must admit that the chance of this happening is fairly slim. However, it does happen and people and families do suffer as a result. It is worth noting that this only extends to ‘life extending’ drugs i.e. if somebody is terminally ill. It does not apply to drugs which could be seen as ‘life saving’. Most of those are available through the NHS.

One of the biggest pros of a universal health care system is the fact that information on patients is shared between medical establishments. This comes in the form of electronic health care records. Now, it is worth noting that not every medical center has completely digitized their records at the moment, although it will most likely happen within the next couple of years. The benefit here is that no matter where you go, doctors and nurses are going to have access to your records. This is going to make it considerably easier to diagnose and treat you. Of course, the con is that electronic health records need to be kept completely secure. After all, you don’t want to let other people view the medical records of a patient right?

As you can see, there are more pros than cons when it comes to the universal health care system in the UK. Sure, there are problems with a system of this nature, but at least it guarantees access to health care for absolutely everybody.

Many people believe that universal health care system is the best choice considering there are lots of people who cannot afford private health care insurance. Health insurance is indeed an expensive investment and regardless the occupation and age; all people should have the standard health care. The universal health care system is seen as the ideal system as it does not discriminate people. The system provides heath treatment for people in the same way without looking your occupation, age, or gender. It sounds so promising and great; however, such system does not come without disadvantages. There are some points which come as the universal health system flaw. Below are some of the pros and cons of the universal health system in UK


Improve public health

The universal health system allows every legal people in the country to get the basic health care. This health care also helps improving the general population health since people have equal access to free medical care. There will be reduction of ill people in the general population which lead to healthier and more productive population. In addition, universal health care also helps reducing the spread of infectious disease as well as other general health problems. People will also be more aware of their condition and seek for medical treatment immediately when they are sick.

Widespread accessibility

In Britain, the universal health care system is accessible throughout the breadth and length of the country. Other countries especially the larger nations may also apply similar system but mostly accessibility becomes the main issue. But in Britain, whether it is in a rural area, countryside, or urban centers; almost all health services available.

No discrimination

The fact that British universal health care system does not discriminate patients on any basis, this becomes the lifesaver for millions of people who cannot afford or do not have the fund for typical health insurance to pay for their healthcare. Every people from any social level can get sick and caught diseases; therefore, provide complete medical treatment without seeing the patient background is important.

Full coverage

As mentioned above that the universal health care in Britain does not discriminate on any basis. Such system covers every citizen of the United Kingdom with full health coverage. This full coverage means every native and immigrant who has to obtain British citizenship can have health insurance which is provided and funded by the government. The best thing is there is no exception or whatsoever.

Generous System

The United Kingdom is known as the country with the generous healthcare system in the globe. Interestingly, the country has been dealing with the fiscal deficit with quite well. A lot of countries, in fact, have failed to manage the same issue because implementing welfare programs which provide health coverage for almost the countries population will become huge bearing for the exchequer.

Less paperwork

Universal health care system will put everyone under one same system. Therefore, doctors and nurses will no longer bother with patient’s paperwork such as complicated insurance and can focus on the medical treatment. This leads to better performance of doctors and other heath care professionals because they can focus on their field of expertise.

Promote human right

Proper health and medical care is basically the right of every human. It is the government duty to provide free and equal medical care for the entire citizens through universal health care system.


Even though the universal health care system sounds very great for it provides free and equal medical care for the people; however, the system also comes with some cons.

Takes time

Implementing universal heath care takes time. It is not easy to put new changes without sacrificing other factors. There are also trial and errors as well as technical difficulties along the way. This is because universal health care has lots of regulations that people should understand and it becomes the learning curves.

Lack of options

The universal health care system leaves citizen no choice to choose the physician or treatment that they want. In general, government-provided care is somehow not as good as private health care providers. In addition, the policy of universal health care scope is not as diverse or expanding as private insurance.

Low wages for nurses and doctors

From the point of view of nurses and doctors as the government employees, the universal health care system is considered as not very fair. They do not receive the rewarding financial packages. For the sensitive and significant professions of doctors and nurses, they are often complaining about low wages under the universal health care system.

Long waiting time

The British health care system, basically, there is no luxury that citizen can choose. This is not to mention the long waiting times which also becomes the main problem in other universal health care around the globe. The long wait times would make people wait for months to get treated. Even though experts and policy make have been trying to eliminate the waiting times, but it seems there is no actual success until today. The same case also occurs in other countries universal health care system.

Bureaucratic hurdles

Since the government runs the universal heath care; there are bureaucracy hurdles and lots of red tape which result in poor service and long time wait. It is no surprise since the universal health care system take care the entire nation. However, if the bureaucracy continues to make people waiting for a long time; this will result in people who does not receive proper treatment that they need.

The universal health care system is about giving health care package as the society need without incurring financial hardship. The system aims at providing better health treatment as well as improves the access to health services.

The best thing of all, everybody can get full medical coverage for free without considering their social background. Therefore, the citizens do not have to worry about their health because they know the universal health care cover their medical needs.

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8 Responses

  1. Kenneth Davies
    | Reply

    I emigrated to Canada in 1956 and am receiving an English Pension. I would like to visit the U.K this Spring ,Would I be covered for health insurance if I planned a two week stay?. sincerely Kenneth Davies.

    • Joyangel
      | Reply

      No, you will not. You will have to a resident/citizen to be eligible for the National Health Service (NHS) insurance coverage.

  2. Joe Kwiatkowski
    | Reply

    What’s really needed is universal coverage for catastrophic situations like bad accidents. What I don’t like is coverage of frivolous superficial things like birth control. The Republicans might do well do come back with a ‘bare bones’ (no pun intended) system of this type.

    • Tyler Davis
      | Reply

      This is foolish because preventing unwanted pregnancies create a burden on society as a whole. It is more efficient to provide birth control and prevent more welfare recipients. It is a more forward thinking method of getting people off of welfare than hoping people, who make bad decisions in general, will do the right thing and purchase their own birth control and contraceptives.

  3. Ashley
    | Reply

    I live here in the United States and never really traveled to another country. However I get Medicare and Medicare Coverage Part A and B with prescription drug coverage. If were to visit the United Kingdom would I have to have added health insurance coverage when traveling to another country?

  4. Ashley
    | Reply

    In addition I take medication for bipolar depression, PTSD, and ADHD. My prescriptions I take are Zoloft (Lustral) 50 mg. and Ritalin 20mg 3x daily in the generic brands. Will there would be any precautions to be aware of?

  5. Stanley Austin
    | Reply

    What you haven’t mentioned is that the hospital service is manned by interns (house officers) and residents (registrars) who assume the greater part of the work, in exchange for a low salary, in house residence, and further instruction (if you’re lucky). Much of this further training is non-existent, the apprentice doing most of the work. There is a long line for specialized technology such as MRIs and PET scans, while appointments in the US are generally readily available.
    What if your appendix has to be removed by a recently qualified intern.

  6. Jim
    | Reply

    Everybody talks bad about US healthcare, I have wonderful healthcare through my employer, survived 2 cancer surgeries, all for a $50 copay. I have a lifesaving maintenance prescription drug for a MS diagnosis with no problems covering the cost. From articles I’ve read I am almost certain this would not be the cased with universal healthcare.

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