WORK-LIFE BALANCE / MAY. 05, 2014
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Get Paid to Stay Healthy: Think Tank Suggests New Proposal

According to the think tank 20/20 Health the NHS should offer tax rebates to individuals who maintain their health. The think tank suggests that a scheme which would encourage people to lead and maintain healthier lifestyles by dieting and quitting smoking for example, will aid in decreasing pressures on the health service and GP services.

The scheme will apply to tax payers only and its goal would be to resolve impending financial pressure on the NHS in the future as well. NHS England has said that the health care provider will suffer a £30 billion funding slump by 2021 as it will struggle to cope with the demand for caring for the elderly and the increasing number of individuals who are being diagnosed with medical conditions like diabetes which also require long-term care.

Under the think tank’s proposal, GPs will be able to oversee their patient’s health care habits and will be paid for carrying out checks, or stepping in when patient’s personal health care is slipping - also electronic medical records would reinforce this system if it were to be established.

In regards to the future of Britain’s health service, 20/20 Health released a report outlining its proposal:

“We propose ‘payments by results’, a financial reward for people who become active partners in their health, whereby if you, for example, keep your blood sugar levels down, quit smoking, keep weight off, or take on more self-care there will be a tax rebate or and end of year bonus.”

The think tank has also suggested eliminating what kind of treatment and healthcare individuals receive based upon their geographical location as well.

John Appleby, professor and chief economist for the King’s Fund also commented that the NHS would benefit from taking more assertive action towards safe-guarding its efficiency and taking better steps towards easing the financial pressure the NHS is facing:

“It is now a question of when, not if, the NHS runs out of money. Without significant additional funding, this will lead to rising waiting times, cuts in staff and deteriorating quality of care.”

20/20 Health has been keen to draw comparisons to a similar scheme that has been successful in eastern Scotland where the local NHS has been offering mothers who smoke £12.50 worth of credits per week in an effort to help them to quit. These credits are only given to mothers throughout their pregnancy and three months after they have given birth.

In total, 450 women have taken part in this scheme, and 20% of them have continued to avoid smoking after they have become ineligible to continue receiving credits.

20/20 Health’s proposal does bring issues of sustaining the NHS financially for the foreseeable future to the forefront. Offering tax rebates to individuals to maintain their own personal health in a bid to protect the NHS from rising expenses will be met with a certain amount of skepticism. However, alternative options such as this one need to be considered in order for the health service to continue offering vital health care.

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