British prime minister Theresa May said she was “proud of having an NHS that is free at the point of delivery,” whilst Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, tweeted the same sentiments.

Others were keen to point out the uncomfortable truth missing in this debate: NHS funding would need to “be increased by 50%” for the UK government spending on healthcare to match US levels. According to OECD data, the UK spends $4,192 per capita on healthcare, while the US spends far more than any other country in the world—$9,892. The UK spends the least per person among the biggest economies in the world (the OECD didn’t have data on China).

Since the 1990s, the UK and US have both increased the amount they spend. It’s notable, however, that the gap in spending between them has only gotten wider. And despite spending significantly less, life expectancy in the UK (81.6 years) is still much higher than the US (78.7 years).

While the UK has yet to question the principle of universal coverage, the island of about 66 million is faced with other pressing questions; How much are Brits prepared to pay for the NHS, who will pay it, and what exactly will it buy?

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