The social science literature on the comparative history of the welfare state offers conflicting accounts of the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. At first blush, the comparative history of health care policy in the United States and the United Kingdom seems to affirm the dominant view that the U.S. and U.K. welfare states have diverged substantially during the twentieth century. A comparison of U.S. and U.K. health policy, however, suggests that there are more parallels and points of tangency between the two systems than are readily apparent. The comparative history of health policy over the past century reveals common political and policy challenges and frequent interchanges of policy ideas, and helps uncover the political dynamics behind the development of health policy in the two countries, which can, in turn, help illuminate the contemporary politics of reform in both countries.

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