AOC and Bernie Sanders urge UK to ‘cherish and protect’ NHS: ‘It could take generations to regain’

The US pays roughly twice as much as the UK for healthcare, for worse outcomes and heavy bills that land on consumer shoulders

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 04 December 2019 21:32 GMT
Ms Ocasio-Cortez in Washington last month
Ms Ocasio-Cortez in Washington last month (REUTERS)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have slammed the for-profit US healthcare system, in a warning to Britons to protect the NHS following a viral video highlighting the costs of care in America.

In the video, Britons are quizzed on how much they think various healthcare procedures and items cost in the US, including an inhaler ($250-$350 in the US), two epiPens ($600) and the cost of an ambulance ride ($2,500). In the UK all are funded through taxes and are free at the point of use.

“For an inhaler? Man, so if you’re poor, you’re dead,” said one woman in the video, posted by Politics JOE, who guessed inhalers cost around $100 to $120 in the United States.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman congresswoman from New York, used the viral video to attack the pharmaceutical industry and special interests in the United States, and warn the UK to protect the NHS.

“To our friends in the UK: please cherish, protect, & continue investing in your healthcare system!” she tweeted. “Once Big Pharma & special interests get their hands on it, it could take generations to regain. Millions of people in the US are fighting to have a system half as good as the NHS.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez was not alone among liberal American politicians to pick up on the video’s message. Bernie Sanders, a leading 2020 presidential contender also weighed in, tweeting to his supporters that the system in the US would not be considered normal in many other developed counties.

“Remember that our outrageous for-profit system is not the norm in other countries. We can and we must do better,” Mr Sanders wrote. “We need Medicare for All now.”

In the US, the average consumer spends more than $10,000 a year on healthcare, with 52 per cent of the country’s debt collection efforts targeting unpaid medical bills.

And, the costs extend beyond that immediate price tag, often dragging families down in the process. Around 530,000 bankruptcies are filed a year because of medical debt in the US.

Those individuals are arguably the lucky ones, too, with around 45,000 Americans dying each year because they lack healthcare.

The US pays a pretty penny for those outcomes, too, with around double the healthcare costs by GDP as a nation compared to what the UK spends for better results.

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