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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 August 2016

The threat of private health insurance

NHS privatisation cartoon, photo Alan Hardman

NHS privatisation cartoon, photo Alan Hardman   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale

As waiting times for NHS treatment lengthen, more people can be tempted by private medical insurance. This is a dangerous trend - for the NHS and for all but the wealthiest few.

In February, more patients than ever waited over 18 weeks for planned hospital care - over 260,000. 83,000 people had to wait over 26 weeks and almost 9,400 waited more than 39 weeks.

Record numbers of cancer patients also had to wait. Hospitals breached two of the eight cancer waiting time targets. Only 81% of people referred by their GP to have a first treatment for cancer got it within 62 days.

Over 5 million people have private medical insurance. Four fifths are paid by employers, the average cost being 700 a year. Prices for older people can be much higher. The cost is increasing four times faster than the rate of inflation.

Medical insurance companies are keen to cut the cost of insurance - for themselves. Like all insurance companies, they want more low risk customers paying premiums but fewer claims, especially for expensive treatment.

Now they are offering more than 10% discounts to people who share their fitness data. Trackers such as Fitbits measure how active the wearer is and can collect information about gym sessions and supermarket visits. They could also track heart rate and blood pressure. This information could be used to stop those in greater need of medical care being insured, unless at a prohibitively high premium.

Lengthening waiting lists and daily attacks on the NHS by the government and in the media can drive more people who can afford it to insure for private treatment. Those most in need of healthcare are usually least able to pay.

A massive trade union-led campaign is needed to save our NHS providing treatment for all and prevent US-style treatment by credit card.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 24 August 2016:


#KeepCorbyn

Kick out the Blairites

#KeepCorbyn: Answer right's attacks with firm socialist programme

Corbyn union nominations round-up and view from the workplace

#KeepCorbyn: huge support at rallies and among Labour rank and file


Socialist Party news and analysis

Black footballer's taser death: stop police racism now

Pay still below pre-crisis levels

Train fares to rise again - nationalise railways now!

500m on civil service redundancies in two years

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Trump in trouble - political polarisation deepens

International news in brief


Socialist readers' comments

Readers respond to Trotskyist red scare smears by capitalist media

Would you call G4S for help over discrimination?

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Workplace news and analysis

Deliveroo strike action forces bosses to back down

Junior doctors set for further strike action

A day in the life of a call centre worker

Workplace news in brief


Save our NHS

Save our NHS!

The threat of private health insurance

Organise against secretive NHS cuts plans


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Greenwich council tenants: We won't pay! We won't move!

Local estate agents back Butterfields tenants

Nottinghamshire Pride makes history

Immingham residents' housing battle


 

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