President Trump’s parade of falsehoods extended to health care in the United Kingdom this week when he posted a wildly inaccurate tweet that peddled lies about the UK’s National Health Service (NHS):
The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
Though thousands of people were marching in London over the weekend, they were doing so in support of the NHS, opposite Trump’s assertion. The demonstration was actually aimed at ending budget cuts to the popular system.
If anything, you would think Trump would be praising NHS cuts, given how much he has bragged about ending the health care individual mandate through the tax scam bill, which threatens the health care of 13 million Americans and will increase premiums for millions more. Further, his administration continues to sabotage our health care system, including through illegal work requirements for Medicaid and through taking steps to allow insurers to offer junk plans.
Unsurprisingly, Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK—who leads the Conservative Party—reproached him for his ignorance. Similarly, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the center-left Labor Party, responded, “People were marching because we love our NHS” and are against further cuts, adding “health care is a human right.”
While President Trump’s ignorance and lies won’t be a surprise to most, it is worth briefly exploring just how wrong he is about the NHS. In the UK, virtually everyone is covered and care is free to anyone who seeks it. Bills and other paperwork are almost unheard of, as is medical bankruptcy. The UK also has a lower infant mortality rate and a higher life expectancy than the United States. And they are able to achieve all this despite spending close to half what we spend, in terms of percentage of GDP, and nearly a third as much, when comparing per capita spending.
And while the NHS is not without problems (as with any health care system), it remains deeply popular with the British people and no major party would consider abolishing it or implementing a system as fragmented and unnecessarily expensive as our own. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary for the NHS (and a member of PM May’s Conservative Party) responded directly to President Trump: “I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover. NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage – where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance[.]”
The ironic part is that Trump promised great coverage for all Americans, both during his campaign and while in office. He also reportedly asked advisors, “Why can’t Medicare simply cover everybody?” on more than one occasion. And in one of his books, he even advocated for a single-payer health care system. Hopefully one day President Trump will come to his senses and return to supporting the policy that can best address our country’s significant health care challenges: single-payer Medicare-for-All.
Image courtesy Rohin Francis/CC BY 2.0