The Welfare State
After World war II the Labor government in Britain created a welfare state.
The idea was that the state should be responsible for looking after people by providing education and healthcare and helping people in special need.
The Welfare State in the UK
The social security system pays welfare benefits to people in need:
the sick and disabled, elderly people, the unemployed and those on low incomes.
Child benefit is paid to mothers for each child.
The national Health service began in 1948 with free healthcare.
Family doctors, called General Practitioners are responsible for organizing treatment. In an emergency people can go to the Accident and Emergency department of the nearest hospital.
Everybody who works must pay National insurance.
The money from National insurance contributions is used to pay benefits such as the state pension and help fund the National Heath service.
Everyone who has paid National insurance contributions get a state pension when they retire.
The state pension age for men is 65 years old, for women currently 60, but increasing to 65 by 2020.
The Welfare State in USA
The social security programme started in 1935, pays a basic pension to workers when they retire.
All workers and their employers pay regular contributions to the fund.
Social security provides financial support if workers become unemployed, sick or disabled.
The USA has no comprehensive national healthcare system.
Most workers belong to private health insurance schemes, which are part of their employment contracts and alsocover their families.
There are two government programmes:
- Medicare, a health insurance programme for old people.
- Medicaid, a programme of assistance to the poor.
More than 40 million Americans cannot afford health insurance and don't qualify for medicare and medicaid.
Elderly people and poor families with children can obtain other welfare benefits:
food stamp, free school meals and public housing at low rents.
37 million Americans are below the official poverty line.
Private charities, religious institutions and voluntary organization also provide help to people in need.
50% of adult Americans do volunteer work and nearly 75% of US households contribute money to charity.