Identifying options for funding the NHS and social care in the UK: international evidence

Funding options for the NHS and social care in the UK

July 2018

Jon Sussex
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Key points

  • Most reviewed countries fund health care primarily from public sources, such as taxation and mandatory health insurance, but funding of social care often relies more than health care on individuals paying privately.

  • Health and social care funding reforms tend to be incremental rather than radical, are path-dependent, and are catalysed by changes in economic conditions rather than by rising demand for care.

  • High-income countries have taken diverse approaches to tackling the need to increase health and social care funding and there is no single optimal, or commonly preferred, solution to achieving sustainable revenues.

As part of a larger project to identify a range of feasible options for the future funding of health and social care in the four countries of the UK, this working paper explores how 16 other high-income countries have thought about and implemented changes to their funding systems for health and social care to better meet the challenges ahead.

It provides examples of funding configurations for health and social care, as well as changes that have been implemented, or are being considered, in a range of high-income countries. It explores the drivers of recent or planned health and social care funding changes and reforms, and the contexts within which decisions around funding were taken. Finally, the paper also highlights key points that can inform the range of conceivable options for funding health care and social care in the four countries of the UK.

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