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Just a thought

Am back for a couple of days. And you never really find out how a place it ticking without reading the ads at the back of the freebie paper. That’s where the advertisers are clicking into the current thing.

And interested to see a clinic advertising full MRIs for £200. £200 isn’t nothing, it’s half a week’s minimum wage. But for someone like me – like most of us here in fact – it’s not a sum to cause a fright. Actually, while I’d note handing it over I’d not, partifcularly, note whether I had done so or not a couple of weeks later. It’s one of those intermediate sums, not spare change but not wholly important.

And, well, I’d pay that. Not for an MRI I could get for free if I waited, that’s not what I mean. Rather, I’d pay that just to get one at my time. “No, don’t do mornings, sorry, got a project on, but 1 pm suits” sorta line.

And that is what a lot of routine health care does in fact cost. £50 there, £200 the other. Still, absolutely, want insurance (and yes, the backstop always will be the state, in the end) for the car smashes, vile cancers and so on. But blood pressures, GPs, flus and the clap? Private seems sensible enough, no?

19 thoughts on “Just a thought”

  1. It would be fair enough for dentistry too, though we do find the cost of that mounts up.

    Which brings me to an old itch that I keep wanting to scratch – what did Blair have against NHS dentistry that led him to put some of it to the sword? (Including, I may say, the practice that I used to use.)

  2. 200 quid? Nuffield advertise (on their website) CT for 575, MRI 520. Slightly more than intermediate level.

    But, those prices are for Brighton.

    Bristol, 420 for the MRI.

    Cardiff, 695 for the CT, 395 MRI.

    How very curious.

  3. It’s why I always went private, Tim. The time/cost loss faffing about with NHS was always higher than paying for a service delivered quickly on demand. Even at fairly low rates of earnings. S’pose it’s different for people who’s employer picks up the time cost. But that’s only moving it around. It doesn’t disappear. In the end you’re paying it in reduced wages.

  4. Went private for a consultation about whether I needed a minor(ish) op just before Covid arrived. That cost me more than that MRI price. I suspect that’s because I had a fully qualified quack and most MRIs will need one technician to do it and another technician (or an AI these days) to do the preliminary look at the results, with only a minority needed a fully qualified body to take a second look. The guilds must keep their income up you know.

    But yes, for anything that isn’t immediately life threatening the convenience and speed of private is a major advantage. Blood pressure I do at home, using the same kit as my GP has. The monitors cost less than a decent meal.

  5. That £200 scan is £166+VAT.

    Digging around I found the NHS Payment Scheme document which lists their internal prices. Apparently a simple MRI scan of one area costs the NHS just £118. That’s close enough to the private price to sound plausible.

  6. I have made progress on the Blair/dentistry front. “In 1999, the prime minister, Tony Blair, said that within two years everyone would be able to see an NHS dentist just by ringing NHS Direct.”

    So he torpedoed it because he’d promised to do the opposite. Alles ist klar.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    £200 for the scan, but how much for the analysis and consultation on next steps?

    I had a non cancerous growth at the side my forehead removed privately about 18 months ago. I can’t remember the detailed itemised costs but procedure itself was about £400, quite reasonable when you take in to account anaesthetic, attendant nurse and cost of room, and the final bill came it at £1100 by the time I’d had consultations, lab analysis, stitches removed etc.

    Still worth it, though.

  8. @BiND

    My wife is having some similar work done, for similar costs. We’d still be waiting to see an NHS consultant.

  9. Problem with the UK is you don’t have the size of private sector medical to get a competitive market. Plus the whole thing’s underpinned by the extraordinarily generous amounts medics get paid by the NHS. Last time I was in the UK I tried looking for a GP by going through Yellow Pages for Sussex. Gave up after a couple dozen entries. All NHS only. Ended up going to Lille. Less painful than London.
    Here, where it’s basically private, always amazes me how cheap it can be.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    @Chris Miller
    Hopefully somewhere better than the Winterbourne in Dorchester. The medical side was no problem but the admin was terrible. They lost my notes and it was like the Keystone Kops as they ran around trying to find them then they screwed up the stitches out and consultant check appointments, fortunately the consultant was around.

  11. BiS – must have been some time ago if you were using the Yellow Pages. A quick Google gives me loads of the buggers (although mainly from the usual suspects like Spire and what-have-you).

  12. re: SEC classification of goods and services

    Economists classify goods and service as three types: search goods, experience goods, and credence goods.

    Search goods: those with attributes that can be evaluated prior to purchase or consumption. Consumers rely on prior experience, direct product inspection and other information search activities to locate information that assists in the evaluation process. Most products fall into the search goods category (e.g. clothing, office stationery, home furnishings).

    Experience goods: those that can be accurately evaluated only after the product has been purchased and experienced. Many personal services fall into this category (e.g. restaurant, hairdresser, beauty salon, theme park, travel, holiday).

    Credence goods: those that are difficult or impossible to evaluate even after consumption has occurred. Evaluation difficulties may arise because the consumer lacks the knowledge or technical expertise to make a realistic evaluation or, alternatively because the cost of information-acquisition may outweigh the value of the information available. Many professional services fall into this category (e.g. accountant, legal services, medical diagnosis/treatment, cosmetic surgery)

    Healthcare, being a credence good, should be run by the government.

    As an aside, I’m a Canadian where we have single-payer government-funded healthcare. While the funding is public, doctors for example still have to compete for patients. I think that blend of public/private is the best system.

  13. Whether it’s true or not, was told that if you used private healthcare, and it revealed something that required treatment, you could not have that done on the NHS. That is why I will wait 21 days for a blood test, rather than pay to have it done the next day.

  14. “you could not have that done on the NHS”: that was a restriction Blair tried to impose. If I remember rightly he was defeated in his aim.

    You must always remember that if a Toni Blair uses the NHS then he’s given privileged treatment so he is not too worried about restrictions on private patients.

  15. Healthcare, being a credence good, should be run by the government.

    No. Your descriptions puts proper words on what I’ve described before as something like “price/knowledge” factors:
    The lower the price, the less regulation needed, a flawed transaction has minor damage and can be thrown away.
    The more greater the frequency, the less regulation needed, a flawed transaction can be thrown away, I’ll just do it differently tomorrow.
    The greater the knowledges, the less regulation needed. Ply-for-hire taxis need higher regulation as the passanger has zero knowledge of the provider, private high can have lower regulation as the customer is choosing the provider.

    So, Healthcare, being a credence good, needs to be more regulated than non-credence goods, not run by government. If the only way to provide the required level of regulation is for it to be run by government, so be it, but just being a high-price/low-knowledge/low-frequency transaction doesn’t *mean* it needs to be run by the government, any more than getting a home mortgage.

  16. I had a crown drop out last Thursday lunch time. I phoned my dentist and for an appointment and by 4 o’clock that very day the crown was recemented. I am a private patient.

  17. “Healthcare, being a credence good, should be run by the government.”

    Fuck off. I know whats best for my health more than the fucking State does.

  18. @BiND

    Chiltern in Missenden, they’re both part of Circle Health Group, but so far, so good (admin-wise).

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