FT economics editor Chris Giles makes the case for a dedicated NHS tax to better maintain the standard of services offered to all patients in the UK as health leaders call for such a tax to fund the NHS and social care
Produced by Alessia Giustiniano. Graphics by Russell Birkett.
Britain's NHS is akin to a national religion. But while we're hot on moral support, we're lukewarm on financial reverence. Britain spends 140 billion pounds on health - a lot of money. A bit over 2,000 pounds each. The annual cost of 20 to 45-year-olds is roughly 1,200 pounds. But by 65, people's health costs average 7,000 pounds. By 90, it's over 10,000 pounds a year.
Don't blame pensioners. Life sucks and then you die, some say. They should add, and just before you die, you're pretty expensive, and getting more pricey as Britain ages.
Between now and 2030, the UK population will grow by 4 million people to 70 million. 99% of this increase will be people over 60. Don't be alarmed - living longer is great news. But there is a financial cost for the NHS, and it is not compatible with the tightest decade for the NHS since its founding 70 years ago.
While we don't like voting for politicians who promise to raise our taxes, Conservatives rule out any rises in the three biggest revenue raisers. Labour promises to raise taxes on other people only - companies or the rich. So politicians and economists are thinking again about a special health tax - sweetening the pill by earmarking the revenues specifically for the NHS. Perhaps, just perhaps, it's better to use special health taxes as a way to raise revenue than starve a vital public service of the funds it needs.