Chapter 6 has shown that although the private health sector remains small compared with the NHS (which is, after all, one of the world’s largest corporate organisations), it has grown rapidly until quite recently. This growth is concentrated in insurance and facilities for acute hospital care, and it is around such facilities that the greatest controversy rages. By comparison, the part of the private sector that caters for the long-term care of the elderly attracts much less interest or hostility. To a degree, this reflects the special category into which acute medical care is placed by critics of the private sector. Health is seen as something whose distribution must be independent of markets and of the distribution of income. Those in favour of the private sector counter that, since health insurance is within the same price range as a drinking or smoking habit, the choice of these or other uses of an individual’s income should be left in his own hands. Since the NHS remains to cover emergencies and most other forms of care, a decision to increase well-being by the acquisition of private health insurance is then put in the same class as a choice in favour of beer and skittles.