Healthcare Cost Comparison – UK vs US

In light of the decision by Tory MPs to deny the NHS protection from being sold off as part of trade deals, I wanted to highlight the stark differences in the UK and US healthcare systems, to illustrate why we need to protect the NHS from encroachment by US businesses.

Firstly, some basics.

Hopefully you won’t need one, but if you require an ambulance to attend to you and take you to hospital, here in the UK that costs you… zero.

In the USA, an ambulance call out can cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Emergency Treatment

In the UK a trip to A&E is not going to cost you anything. In the USA, a trip to an urgent care centre (which is not the same level of care as the ER but cheaper) is around $150 per visit. The average cost of a visit to an ER is pegged at $1,389 in 2017.

Prescription Medication

The typical prescription charge in the UK is £9.15 per item, with means available to save on this.

In the USA, the average annual spend on prescription drugs is $1,200. The USA has the highest per capita spending on pharmaceuticals of any county in the world.

Giving Birth

A pretty natural thing right? People want to have families. In the UK, you’re not charged for the hospital visit and subsequent stay. In the USA, the cost of having a baby is an eye-watering $10,000 – and that’s without any complications.


In the USA, the leading reason for bankruptcy is due to medical bills. The healthcare service of America is built as a business, a for-profit organisation that places finances as the driving force for decisions. Here in the UK, and in many other countries, healthcare is run as healthcare – the needs of the patient are more important than a balance sheet.

The idea that medical institutions should be run as businesses is to be, frankly abhorrent. Millions of Americans, who live and work in the richest, most powerful country in the world, face difficult choices over whether or not to get their prescription drugs, because of the costs. They often end up having to take a gamble on their health, just so they can put food on the table. In the USA, healthcare is for the privileged few who can afford it, rather than a right for everyone.

We don’t want or need such a system here in Britain. Whilst the NHS isn’t perfect, no one is ending up in debt because they had to visit a doctor or go to the hospital.

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