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Patient passports

Much excitement over at the Centre Right blog, where Simon Chapman says that the EU's decision to allow patients to seek medical treatment whereever they like and to reclaim their costs from the NHS is really just the Tories' old Patient Passport policy dressed up in new clothes.

He's probably right, but he's missing one rather important point. The NHS currently manages demand by means of rationing - which is to say they only provide as many services as they can afford to deliver. As use of the Patient Passport becomes widespread, the NHS will lose this ability to manage demand. If the NHS can't afford to deliver, patients will go overseas and reclaim their costs, so the NHS will end up paying anyway. Since demand for free healthcare is essentially limitless (everyone wanting to live forever), the whole system will go into meltdown.

So how then can we manage demand if patients can seek treatment whereever they like?

Roll on Singapore style healthcare accounts.

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