BEST guesstimates are that just about four million people have access to private healthcare in Britain, and apart from the super-rich the great bulk of private healthcare users obtain it as a work-related perk.
No one, even the relatively wealthy, thinks it is worth forking out earned income on healthcare that is provided free at the point of use; is in clinical terms among the best in the world, and is paid for through a universal contributory national-insurance scheme.
Top bosses in the private sector routinely get top quality and fully comprehensive healthcare which, when needed, is often provided in NHS facilities by NHS staff working under private contract.
Management types lower down the pecking order get a more limited and capped service designed more to jump NHS waiting lists than deliver care of a better quality than that routinely available in the NHS.
Of course, our NHS is already partly privatised. And only recently the European Union was in negotiation with the US over the shape of a trade agreement. Much of the opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) centred on its likely effect on the NHS.
Opponents of TTIP argued that including healthcare in the agreement would force further privatisation on the NHS. The market mechanisms which EU membership already entails has steadily enriched health-service vultures the like of Richard Branson.
Think of private healthcare as an industry created by the deliberate failure of government to fund adequately the service upon which the vast bulk of citizens depend.
It is a central part of a neo-liberal political project designed to accustom the British people even more to a future in which all aspects of life, all services upon which we depend, all utilities are even more stratified along class line than they already are.
Into this political project and ideological construct, we have the stratification of education in which academies and grammar schools sometimes provide a service of an intermediate quality while the pampered offspring of the rich and not-so rich attend private schools themselves stratified by cost. The rest of us send our kids to schools whose funding shortfall worsens every term.
Think of private education as an industry created by the deliberate failure of government to fund adequately the service upon which the vast bulk of citizens depend.
Because a cash-strapped NHS rations healthcare by medical urgency and queuing, the thin edge of the private-healthcare wedge depends on NHS facilities and NHS staff trained at public expense. In the same way, the private education system depends on staff largely educated and trained at public expense (and itself is vastly subsidised by tax breaks).
Contrast our NHS — with all its problems — to the United States where healthcare is a chaotic mixture of partially and inadequately funded public services, compulsory private insurance-based schemes and, for millions, no health cover at all.
In the US it is routine for pre-existing conditions to disqualify suffers, for limits on costs to lead to cutoffs in treatment and for people with serious or long-term health problems to be forced into personal bankruptcy.
Neither Johnson nor any of his privileged circle are going to present the rest of us with their full prospectus which awaits us if they get back into government.
But Jeremy Corbyn’s demonstration that Johnson lied when he said allegations that the NHS was a bargaining chip in secret discussions with the US were “an absolute invention” shows just how dangerous it is to trust a Tory with the NHS, Brexit or anything of importance.
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