The Paradox of the Prescription Charge: Co-payments in British Pharmaceuticals
Prescriptions account for around 10% of UK National Health Service (NHS) expenditures. In an effort to control costs and to recoup expenditures government imposed prescription charges in 1951. Before their temporary abolition in 1965, charge income covered about 20% of costs. But both the charge and the proportion of the population exempted from paying it have increased substantially over the years. Consequently, although the charge has increased from 9% to 53% of the cost of the average script since 1978, total income from the charge has remained less than ten percent of total NHS prescription costs and consumption in the presence of other less easily controled factors such as an ageing population and unemployment. A patient co-payment such as the charge appears to be a significant determinant of health demand.
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