What is the NHS?
The NHS is a rare example of truly socialized medicine. Health care is provided by a single payer — the British government — and is funded by the taxpayer. All appointments and treatments are free to the patient (though paid for through taxes), as are almost all prescription drugs. The maximum cost of receiving any drug prescribed by the NHS is $12.
(Read "The Year in Medicine 2008: From A to Z.")
How was it formed?
The NHS officially came into being in July 1948, in the wake of World War II, to replace an inadequate system of volunteer hospitals that had, during the war, come to rely on government funding. Doctors and conservative politicians vehemently opposed the NHS in the run-up to its formation, using many of the arguments that opponents of greater government involvement in the U.S. cite today. According to Geoffrey Rivett, author of From Cradle to Grave — The First 60 Years of the NHS, the then head of doctor's body the British Medical Association (BMA), Charles Hill, gave a radio address in 1948 in which he asked, "Do you really want the state to be your…