NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

SWEDEN'S GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE

March 5, 2009

Sweden is the world's socialist wonder, however, Sven R. Larson tells about some of Sweden's problems in "Lesson from Sweden's Universal Health System: Tales from the Health-care Crypt," published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Spring 2008).

For example:

  • One Gothenburg multiple sclerosis patient was prescribed a new drug but his doctor's request was denied because the drug was 33 percent more expensive than the older medicine; he then offered to pay for the medicine himself but was prevented from doing so because the bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.
  • Malmo, with its 280,000 residents, is Sweden's third-largest city to see a physician, a patient must go to one of two local clinics before they can see a specialist; the clinics have security guards to keep patients from getting unruly as they wait hours to see a doctor and the guards also prevent new patients from entering the clinic when the waiting room is considered full.
  • Uppsala, a city with 200,000 people, has only one specialist in mammography; Sweden's National Cancer Foundation reports that in a few years most Swedish women will not have access to mammography.

Dr. Olle Stendahl, a professor of medicine at Linkoping University, pointed out a side effect of government-run medicine: its impact on innovation.  He said, "In our budget-government health care there is no room for curious, young physicians and other professionals to challenge established views.  New knowledge is not attractive but typically considered a problem (that brings) increased costs and disturbances in today's slimmed-down health care."

These are just a few of the problems of Sweden's single-payer government-run health care system, says columnist Walter E. Williams.  We have problems in our health care system but most of them are a result of too much government.  Today, over 50 percent of health care expenditures in our country are made by government. 

Source: Walter E. Williams, "Sweden's Government Health Care," Townhall.com, March 4, 2009; based upon: Sven R. Larson, "Lesson from Sweden's Universal Health System: Tales from the Health-care Crypt," published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol. 13, No. 1, Spring 2008.

For text:

http://townhall.com/columnists/WalterEWilliams/2009/03/04/swedens_government_health_care 

For study:

http://www.jpands.org/vol13no1/larson.pdf 

 

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