The NHS – the real cost of good healthcare

I fervently believe all patients of the NHS should receive an itemized bill of all their medications, treatments, GP and specialist appointments, and hospital stays. Only then will the general public understand how much a well-run healthcare system costs so they can truly understand its value. As you may already know, the NHS is free at the point of service, which means it’s paid for by the state via taxation.

Medication

I worked out how much my two medications costs per month – just over £5. My mother’s 14 drugs, on the other hand, totals about £135 per month! The bulk of that cost is carried by two mental health medications, totalling £80. To be honest, I was expecting the morphine and immunosuppression drugs to be the most expensive, but they’re each less than £10 per month.

Besides drugs, I wanted to know the costs of other services.

GPs & Nurses

A 12 minute GP visit costs the NHS £45.
A 7 minute teleconsultation is £27.
A 15 minute appointment with a nurse is £13.

My mother had 15 GP appointments in 2014 (£675), and some of them definitely surpassed 12 minutes. There were 6 teleconsultations (£162), and at least 16 outpatient blood tests done by nurses and phlebotomists (£208).

Surgery

And then there are the four surgeries. Hip, two shoulder replacements and a facial keloid excision. Only the plastic surgery took place in an NHS hospital; the others in a private hospital funded by the NHS. Surgical costs will definitely exceed £30,000.

It cost how much?!

  • Medication £1,600+ (not including the one-off drugs)
  • GP & nurse consultations £1,000+
  • 10 day hospital stay, not including tests and specialists £2,700 based on £1,900/week.
  • Surgeries £30,000+

That comes to over £35,000 for 1 year.

Granted, 2014 was a terrible year for my mother’s health but it’s a great example for the common health problem of inflammatory arthritis and the associated infections that come with immonsuppression treatment. However, those costs don’t include administrative bureaucracy, blood and urine tests, multiple x-rays (some I paid for myself, £120 each), or the two MRIs (est. £400 each), lumbar puncture, consultations with specialists (some I paid for myself, £165 for 15 mins with rheumatologist), dentist visits (£900), etc. I suppose these costs would add another few thousand onto the total, so let’s call it £45,000.

Just to put this into perspective, the average UK salary is £26,000.

Knowing my mother’s American counterparts have to personally pay for their treatment, and how inflated the costs are, makes us incredibly grateful for the NHS despite my complaints about its efficiency. It’s an institution worth saving.

Image: iosphere

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