'Socialist' Swedes Take to Private Health Insurance

Growth of private health insurance in SwedenSvensk FörsäkringSweden, a country famous for a welfare state that has actually been trimmed back substantially in recent years, is experiencing a phenomenon unlikely to bring cheer to those Americans who think the answer to Obamacare's problems is more government involvement in medicine. Tired of long waits and inadequate care, Swedes increasingly purchase private health insurance policies to gain access to the care the state can't provide.

According to Sweden's insurance trade industry organization, Svensk Försäkring:

The number of private health care insurance policies has increased in recent years. In 2011 about 440,000 people had private health care insurance. Most of these people have their policy paid by their employer.

The trend continues, with the English-language The Local reporting last week that "One in ten Swedes now has private health insurance." The site also says, "More than half a million Swedes now have private health insurance," though that seems to refer to the growth in the number of policies, with many more of the country's 9.5 million people actually covered by private insurance.

Why the growth? From The Local:

"It's quicker to get a colleague back to work if you have an operation in two weeks' time rather than having to wait for a year," privately insured Anna Norlander told Sveriges Radio on Friday. "It's terrible that I, as a young person, don't feel I can trust the health care system to take care of me."

In a separate article about Sweden's shrinking welfare state, The Local also noted that "visitors are sometimes surprised to learn about year-long waiting times for cancer patients."

Reason's Matthew Feeney noted in June that Sweden's welfare-state period was something of a brief interlude.

Up until the 1970s Sweden had strong market-oriented policies in place that increased wealth and standards of living thanks to reforms introduced at the end of the 19th century. These Swedish market reforms were wide ranging, impacting both business and law. Property rights were enforced, the government was limited, regulation was light, and a private banking sector flourished.

The cradle-to-grave services implemented in the 1970s proved unaffordable starting in the 1990s.

In the years following the 1990s crisis, Sweden has deregulated whole industries and encouraged the privatization of public services. One Swedish hospital is listed on the stock exchange while the country's education system is the most market-friendly in the word, with a popular voucher program and for-profit schools.

"Income tax in Sweden is now lower than in France, Belgium and Denmark," says The Local, "and public spending as a share of GDP has declined from a record 71.0 percent in 1993 to 53.3 percent last year."

And, of course, Swedes are turning to private medicine to escape the long lines and poor service of the government health system that has been unable to deliver what it once promised.

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  • Aloysious||

    I am tempted to move to Sweden. Maybe if there is an ABBA reunion. (They were Swedish, right?)

  • Mainer2||

    ABBA=Sweedish
    A-Ha=Norwegian

    Got to keep your 80's Scandinavian pop groups straight.

  • sarcasmic||

    And here I thought ABBA was 70s.

  • Mainer2||

    At my age, memory being off by a mere decade still counts as the 10 ring.

  • Apple||

    ABB=Swedish
    A=Norwegian

  • Jon Lester||

    I remember hearing they were offered a reunion tour package in 2000 with a total value of $1 billion, but they said no, because they were rich enough and really didn't want to work again.

  • JWatts||

    They must be running out of money then, because there was a lot of talk about a reunion tour last year:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/.....n/3496449/

  • ruby0015||

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  • Mainer2||

    More real world evidence that central planning and government control of the economy, especially medical care doesn't work so well.

    And yet, my progressive friends remain firm in their belief that they are the smart ones.

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't understand.
    Inequality is immoral. Profit is immoral.

    It is better for everyone to receive equally crappy health care than for some to receive better care than others.

    It is better that the health care system be inefficient than for evil capitalists to earn immoral profits.

    It's not about doing things well. It's about morality.

  • Mainer2||

    I feel better now. And how I feel is what's important.

  • american socialist||

    Right... so its still like 5 of the population instead of 3% Ask a Swede or a Dane or a Finn if they want health care done the American way.

    What I want from a health care system is what all libertarians want... a system where I pay 30 years worth of premiums just so I can get dumped off my policy by some lawyer when I get sick. That's capitalism... what a country!

  • Adam330||

    The article says is 10% of the population. And the relevant choice is not between the the socialized American system and the socialized Swedish system.

  • DJK||

    Where do you get these talking points? Have you ever spoken to a real libertarian or capitalism about their beliefs regarding medicine? Here are some of the relevant points. Governments at all levels skew the health care system in numerous ways. Not allowing purchase of insurance policies across state lines limits competition, keeping prices high. Tax-favored status of employer-provided health insurance gives people an incentive to get policies that they will lose if they lose their job. Life-long, personalized policies are disfavored. Mandatory coverage forces people to pay for coverage they might not need and which doesn't work well under the insurance model, doing nothing more than adding the costs of the middle man. Governments back the AMA in limiting the number of health care professionals able to do even the most basic of tasks, driving up prices. The scenario that you outline can easily be dealt with in a market through enforcement of contracts and boycotts of insurers who pull that crap.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's difficult to boycott insurers when your only viable option is what your employer offers. Otherwise I agree with your post.

  • DJK||

    I was speaking about how things would look under a more truly capitalist health care model. In such case, we wouldn't see tax favoritism for employer-provided plans. I suppose that there are other reasons to have an employer-provided plans, like their ability to negotiate with the insurers. Though I don't see why there couldn't be large advocacy organizations that serve the same purpose but don't tie one's health insurance status to their employment status.

    As to boycotting, it's often just as effective to generate a ton of bad publicity, stopping short of full boycott. As I'm sure you know, companies are far more likely to change their policies in response to bad press than governments are.

  • ||

    a million insurance providers instead of 10 would have even less bargaining power vis a vis providers.

    have you ever taken a business class?

  • DJK||

    Yep. I have a PhD and an MBA from Berkeley. Any other ad hominems?

    What are you talking about when you say bargaining power? In your post below, it was about the bargaining power of individuals against insurers. Now it's insurers against providers. Way to move the goalposts, but I'll bite.

    First off, 10 insurance providers would be fantastic in comparison to what we have right now. When did I say a million? I have no idea what the optimal number is, and neither can any regulator. Any government intervention that creates barriers to entry will automatically move this number away from whatever the optimal is.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    But they would still have bargaining power. Just less. Maybe.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    A large employer could easily boycott and insurer, and that would attract some attention.

    Probably mostly from the FTC, unfortunately...

  • DJK||

    A large consumer advocacy group or even an individual who finds a sympathetic ear in the media could accomplish the same thing. It's never been easier to get a message out there.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Under a truly free-market health care "system," insurance would not be in the driver seat. If we keep talking about alternatives that are centered around insurance, we will miss many opportunities for effective reform.

  • ||

    you *do know that countries with socialized medicine have more doctors per capita than we do, right? Canada has a bit fewer than us, but I think thats a function of their population density.

  • DJK||

    What's your point? Yes, European countries have more doctors per capita than the US. So do places like Azerbaijan, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Russia, and the Ukraine. Are you going to cite these as places with great health care systems?

    Even if I accepted the notion that doctors per capita is a good metric (I don't), there are tons of factors that would cause those numbers to vary. A country with better health may have fewer doctors rather than more (less demand). There might be artificial barriers to becoming a doctor (e.g. the AMA's guidelines codified as law). I'm sure there are plenty of others that I'm not thinking of right now.

    The real question is outcome. If we can get that with fewer glorified mechanics per capita, that's fine by me.

  • ||

    My point is that lower prices do not diminish the supply of providers.

    prices are essentially detached from supply in health care

    that is my point.

  • DJK||

    In a highly regulated market, sure. In an open one, no.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    You *do* know that starting an argument with you *do* know or you *do* realize is totally pompous and faggy, right?

  • Loki||

    If it didn't have pompous and faggy our newest troll wouldn't have anything.

  • DarrenM||

    But what kind of doctors? I suspect doctors in the USA have a higher bar to clear to become a doctor. How many years does a doctor go to school? How about internships afterward?

    This is not necessarily a good thing. 90% of illnesses (I'm guessing) can probably be treated by good nurse. We need to drop unneeded restrictions on *who* can treat various conditions. This would effectively increase the supply of health care providers. Econ 101: increased supply generally means lower prices for the product.

  • Svoogle||

    Always funny to see clueless Americans "wonder" about other countries. You are all so goddamn fucking stupid, it is getting more and more annoying. Enjoy your "greatest healthcare system in the world"! When you find some time, come to Germany or the Netherlands, and you will see what a truly great healthcare system looks like. Hint: have you ever considered what happens when the government becomes the sole shareholder of efficiently run corporations? Get your head out of your ass and do some research. And open up your mind, you dogmatic fool.

  • Suellington||

    Piss off ejit. I lived in the NL for three years and was forced to buy insurance that was not very much cheaper to what I paid here. I also was taxed at close to fifty percent.

  • Suellington||

    Or should I say "kanker op" ?

    (Get cancer)

  • Blakewinslow7||

    I think you're over generalizing. Just look at Obamacare, it's overbearing power is putting strains on businesses. State-owned healthcare is not the answer. It has been proven that market-oriented healthcare is the answer.

  • ||

    the strain on business right now is ZERO. there is no mandate.

  • JWatts||

    Businesses still had to pad their health insurance coverage with all the Obamacare mandatory perks, such as, extensive mental health care coverage, mandatory birth control provisions, etc. That cost money. So any business that ate even a portion of that costs experienced a strain.

    So "the strain on business right now is ZERO." is provably wrong.

  • Loki||

    Also businesses do tend to adjust ahead of time to forseeable changes in the law that impact them. The employer mandate that goes into effect next year would certainly qualify. IOW, they're already making adjustments based on the mandate, so the strain on business is certainly not zero.

  • Sevo||

    Nick Bradley|1.22.14 @ 11:15AM|#
    "the strain on business right now is ZERO. there is no mandate."

    Of course. Businesses never plan ahead. Are you shreek in disguise?

  • Free Society||

    and it takes a number of years before the strain on the market is profound enough to 1) be visible and 2) be visible enough that leftist ideologues can't continue to claim it's non-existence. For Sweden, it took 30 some years for the inefficiencies to effect every Swede directly.

    The discipline of doctors, practitioners and staff established by market conditions, diminishes the further from living memory market conditions become.

  • Adam330||

    I'm not sure I'm going to count a country that where 53.3 of GDP is state spending as a libertarian fantasy-land.

  • JWatts||

    Yes, but a country that is going from 71.0 to 53.3 of state controlled GDP in a 20 year period, is evidence that strong socialism doesn't work.

    We can argue about the parameters, but countries with high levels of socialism are generally economic failures.

  • DarrenM||

    Isn't going from 71.0 to 53.3 called 'austerity'? Isn't that supposed to destroy an economy?

  • Svoogle||

    Sure, my clueless little American moron. How about you go to Germany, or Switzerland, or the Netherlands, or Norway, or Denmark for a little while, to experience what a real civilized, democratic, non-corrupt, well governed country is like. Then please go back to your barbaric banana republic.

  • Suellington||

    Kanker op slaver.

  • Loki||

    No one said it was a "libertarian fantasy land," just that more Swedes are moving away from their socialized healthcare system into private insurance plans.

  • ||

    The derivative of the spending is pretty libertarian. That's good enough for me.

  • american socialist||

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06......html?_r=0

    Socialized medical care provides better outcomes, lowers costs, and raises life expectancy.

  • Jordan||

    Life expectancy is heavily influenced by cultural factors, as are most health outcomes. Socialized medicine lowers costs by rationing care. In addition, even in socialized systems, people typically pay more out of pocket than Americans do, which puts downward pressure on prices as well.

  • Mainer2||

    Without reading the article too closely, my BS meter starts to register when read such dramatic differences. Swedes spend Half what Americans do. Our infant mortality rate is Double theirs. American men are Twice as likely to die. Really ? All that may be true, but it makes me suspect that more likely those figures are getting massaged. Sort of like the millions of Americans that experience "food anxiety". We have an obesity epidemic, yet millions are starving.

  • sarcasmic||

    America counts infant mortality rates differently, so comparisons of that statistic are meaningless.

    Likewise death rates among American men are higher not because of health care, but because of gang violence. Again making comparisons meaningless.

  • DJK||

    Bingo. A stillborn child is not considered to be a case of infant mortality in Europe. In the US, it is.

  • DJK||

    Life expectancy is also highly correlated with the population of racial minorities and how they interact with society. The US has a huge proportion of minorities when compared with European countries. We also have a huge black-on-black crime problem. Remove young African American men and the life expectancy goes up dramatically.

    What else? There's the fact that the American work week is longer, which increases stress levels. Stress is known to decrease the length of one's life.

  • DJK||

    And better outcomes? How so? On almost every metric, health outcomes are far better in the US than in Europe. We have by far the highest cancer survival rates.

  • ||

    yes. blame black people. cool

  • Mainer2||

    well, it is a fact that we have a huge black-on-black crime problem. Saying A is A is not attributing blame. That could plausibly be placed on progressive policies.

  • sarcasmic||

    yes. blame black people. cool

    That's a whole lot of dumb.

  • DJK||

    When did I blame black people? I don't blame black people at all. We have a long history of institutionalized racism in this country, from slavery to Jim Crow to the manner in which the drug war is implemented. If anything, I blame my fellow white people for that.

    At the same time, it's absolutely moronic to ignore the fact that black-on-black crime is not a huge problem in this country. Blacks kill and injure blacks at a far greater rate than for any other racial group.

    Saying that apparently makes me racist. But the fact that racial and ethnic minorities barely exist in Europe makes that continent a bastion of forward thinking. Hmm...

  • Arn0||

    "But the fact that racial and ethnic minorities barely exist in Europe..." That's not true.

  • Suellington||

    The US gets more immigrants per year than the rest of the world combined. Let's see the paradises of Scandinavia open themselves up to millions of immigrants per year.

  • Loki||

    blame black people. cool

    No one was blaming black people, just pointing out that young black American men are statistically more likely to die as a result of violence than young white American men or young Swedish males and therefore tend to skew the average life expectancy for American men when compared to Swedes. Stow your feaux outrage.

    Although making people have to defend themselves against baseless accusations of racism is a pretty effective way to derail a debate I suppose.

  • Sevo||

    Nick Bradley|1.22.14 @ 11:13AM|#
    "yes. blame black people. cool"

    No, dipshit, we'll blame you for dragging garbage data into a discussion.
    Go eat socialist gruel.

  • Mainer2||

    And those things are true. But how many people swallow stats like in that article, without pausing to consider whether they are plausible or reasonable.

    Another example that comes to mind is back when the "strange danger" had all the parents in a tizzy. There was some stat floating around about how many kids went missing each year. This was gospel until someone called bullshit by pointing out that if true, then millions of kids had simply vanished over the course of a decade. Which just wasn't plausible. Because the stat was BS.

  • ||

    yes. they are able to do this by controlling prices.

  • kbolino||

    Do they actually set prices or do they simply limit spending?

    Saying "I'm not going to spend more than $X on Y" is not the same thing as saying "you can't charge more than $X for Y".

  • JWatts||

    The primary cost component of the US healthcare system is salaries of health care workers. Generally, everyone in the US system gets paid substantially more than their counterparts in other countries. So, it's pretty clear that in order to significantly cut costs the US would have to directly cut the salaries of doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

    So, the next time you're at the doctor, feel free to tell him that he's paid too much. And also that his salary is the fundamental problem with the American health care system. Or you could just boycott the medical care system if you feel strongly enough.

  • TallDave||

    It's primarily because we do far more care -- 2x as many transplants, 3x as many MRIs as OECD average.

  • Drake||

    The Swedish business people I've worked with are stunned by the level of regulation when they come to the U.S. As socialist as the Swedes supposedly are, they seem to deal with a lot less government than we do.

  • DJK||

    Which is interesting, considering that the government still spends more than half of GDP. Where is that money going?!?!

  • ||

    into the economy!

  • Mainer2||

    stimulus !

  • ||

    yes. aggregate demand management.

    only in neoclassical fantasyland does the distribution of income have no effect on consumption patterns.

    Only in your mind can consumption outstrip wages forever.

  • DJK||

    Consumption outstripping wages mean that wages are the problem, right? Not the consumption? Consumption is always good, even if it's completely unproductive?

  • LynchPin1477||

    Surely you would never ask some people to live within their means when there are rich people getting to enjoy so much nice stuff, would you? I mean, just look at all that stuff! Other people want that stuff, too!

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Aggregate demand can suck your balls. How the fuck did you end up here?

  • DJK||

    I should probably note that you won't find a single person convinced by Keynesian arguments at this site.

  • ||

    Well you would "find" tony here...

    The only thing wrong with keynesian arguments is that they are predicated on a state, with all the violence that entails, and assumes that TOP MEN can know more than millions of individuals.

  • ||

    I should have said strong state.

  • TallDave||

    The distribution of income is mostly a function of the production of wealth.

    A large proportion of Swedish spending goes to their market-oriented voucherized education system. IIRC the other main differences from the United States are 1) more healthcare spending and 2) a few nationalized companies that will probably be spun off over the next decade or so.

  • Drake||

    Sweden is a relatively small homogenous country with really only one layer of government that affects business. Once you have dealt with the federal regulators, you don't have to worry about state, county, and city bureaucrats showing up. An efficiency we'll never have here because politicians at all levels feel compelled to "do something" about the imaginary problems they invent.

    Personal taxes are a little higher, corporate taxes are a lot lower, but that VAT is a the real bitch.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The range of private sector businesses is probably extremely limited, though, because with Sweden's amount of statist spending, private businesses probably cannot compete with whatever the fuck they are subsidizing.

  • Loki||

    The range of private sector businesses is probably extremely limited

    I hear they make a lot of modular furniture and... that's it, that's all I can think of.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Meatballs and lingonberries. Although they probably have agricultural subsidies for those.

  • Loki||

    As socialist as the Swedes supposedly are, they seem to deal with a lot less government than we do.

    The interesting thing about the Swedish version of socialism is that while they spend a lot on a large wellfare state with highly generous benefits, and they pay high taxes, their overall regulatory climate is a lot less severe than here when it comes to insane bureacratic red tape and barriers to entry.

    It's almost like maybe they realized that over regulation strangles the economy and they need a fairly strong economy to pay for their social wellfare state.

  • TallDave||

    Swedish government is much more decentralized. Most functions have devolved to highly accountable local offices. Corruption is almost unheard of.

    The problem is exacerbated in the United States because the federal government here is the largest on Earth. That's why it can spend millions of dollars on insane things like trying to get whores in China to drink less (actual U.S. federal gov't program).

  • kbolino||

    It's almost like maybe they realized that over regulation strangles the economy and they need a fairly strong economy to pay for their social wellfare state.

    This is true, I think, of most northern European countries (e.g. Denmark). Unfortunately, I also think that the EU will be their undoing; Brussels has a strong regulatory inclination (e.g. RoHS) which will turn these countries into over-regulated socialist hellholes if they don't bail out before too long.

    It also cuts to why socialism works so much worse here in the US (and similar places, like the UK) than in many other countries. We have multiple layers of government, each with distinct functions and powers. But politicians make ridiculous promises that translate into the different governments constantly stepping over each other, creating layers of regulations that are at cross purposes.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    The moral thing to do would be to send our poorest 1% (3.19 million unemployed folks) to Sweden. Being good, philanthropic socialists, the Swedes will absorb these new residents with open arms. True, Sweden's system might need some time to adjust, but the 3.19 million American relocatees would see a huge increase in quality of life and some strain would be removed from the overburdened America system. Anyone who cares about his or her fellow humans must support this plan.

  • Drake||

    They are already busy importing an underclass from the Middle East.

  • ||

    This is deeply misinformed. private insurance companies in Sweden and Germany (and elsewhere) do not negotiate their own rates.

    The government negotiates rates and private companies deliver insurance.

    This avoids the biggest drawback of private health insurance: lack of bargaining power

  • DJK||

    Lack of bargaining power? What does this even mean? Try applying that phrase to any other product on the market? Consumers have lack of bargaining power against corporate behemoths like Intel. That doesn't seem to keep microprocessors from getting better and cheaper by the day. They have lack of bargaining power against auto companies. Yet the car makes always seem to make new models at every possible price level. You could do this with just about any product in existence and come to the same conclusion.

    What is so special about health care? Oh, that's right. There's little competition and huge (artificially imposed) barriers to entry. All government interventions.

  • ||

    um, information asymmetries? supply side oligopolies?

    providers dictate prices to insurance companies in the united states, and our doctors make twice as much as they do elsewhere.

    I don't know why you think that's a good thing

  • sarcasmic||

    Die straw man! Die!

  • ||

    its not a straw man. its basic market analysis!

    the buyer-side (insurance companies) is incredibly fractured and have no leverage.

  • ||

    have fun bargain shopping for a triple bypass in libertopia

  • sarcasmic||

    You describe a system that is a result of government created market distortions, then claim that it is what libertarians want.

    That's a textbook straw man.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Fun may not be the right word, but...

    I have no idea what the quality of outcomes are for heart surgery in India, but if a guy can do even a half-way decent procedure for 1/100th the cost of what it is in the U.S., then there is obviously room for bargain hunting.

  • Sevo||

    Nick Bradley|1.22.14 @ 11:28AM|#
    "have fun bargain shopping for a triple bypass in libertopia"

    Have fun shopping for food when you're minutes away from starvation!
    Why, I'll bet you couldn't even get a gab before you die!
    See how we need government regs to provide groceries?

  • LynchPin1477||

    Information asymmetries exist in many many markets for many many products with no real adverse effects. That is why things like Consumer Reports exist.

    If consumers were more price sensitive (by paying more out of pocket expenses), then providers wouldn't be able to dictate prices to insurance companies, supply and demand would. Although I'm not even sure that insurance prices are dictated by providers. I was under the impression that Medicare reimbursement rates tend to dramatically influence prices for other consumers, and that is set by the government.

    In a free market (or freer, anyway), doctors' salaries would also be set by supply and demand.

    And no one here is arguing that the status quo is a good thing. Quite the opposite.

  • sarcasmic||

    And no one here is arguing that the status quo is a good thing. Quite the opposite.

    But, but, but his straw man says otherwise!

  • LynchPin1477||

    Don't they always?

  • DJK||

    Hmmm...we also have far better survival rates for most major illnesses. It seems there's a reason that we're paying doctors more. I think my life is worth paying a bit more.

  • DJK||

    I think that information asymmetries will necessarily exist in any market which comes to have large firms. So what? It doesn't have too much of a negative effect on any other industry, so why should we worry about it for health care?

  • Sevo||

    DJK|1.22.14 @ 11:40AM|#
    "I think that information asymmetries will necessarily exist in any market which comes to have large firms"

    Or small ones. Think of, say, coin collecting.

  • Suellington||

    You should go on a mission to try and get doctors salaries reduced. Make sure you tell your doc about it the next time you visit.

    I paid almost the same amount in the NL for health insurance as I paid here before I left.

  • TallDave||

    Private insurance companies also don't negotiate their own rates in the U.S. or virtually anywhere else.

  • Jon Lester||

    From what my friends in Russia have told me, they have guaranteed care from the state, which is about on par with your county health department, but everyone is free to buy what private insurance and care they want. It's just occurred to me that this may be one more reason why their middle class is growing.

  • JD3||

    "Hurr dee durr, hurr dee durr!"

    --Swedish Chef

  • Blakewinslow7||

    I'm glad to see the Swedish people seeing the light of the free market overreaching the shadows of the state. It is proven time and time again, that the market is for the people, and the state is against them.

  • ||

    this is not the free market. again (!), the government negotiates prices for health care in every other OECD country, regardless of whether they have private insurance or public insurance. this includes switzerland.

  • JWatts||

    No, that's not true. Here's a analysis of how various OECD countries negotiate prices, and it varies widely.

    http://www.commonwealthfund.or.....tions/Fund Report/2010/Jun/1417_Squires_Intl_Profiles_622.pdf

  • Sevo||

    OK, call it a 'freer market'. The point is people are choosing to pay for better service.

  • Blakewinslow7||

    I'm glad to see the Swedish people seeing the light of the free market overreaching the shadows of the state. It is proven time and time again, that the market is for the people, and the state is against them.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Socialized medical care provides better outcomes, lowers costs, and raises life expectancy.


    Swedish-Americans have higher life expectancy that Swedes still living in Sweden. They are also richer.

    It's nonsense to compare pissant countries that have lower and more homogenous populations than many American states with the US which has at least five times the population of the biggest European welfare state.

  • Loki||

    The Local also noted that "visitors are sometimes surprised to learn about year-long waiting times for cancer patients."

    I'm guessing that a lot of the surprised visitors are American proggies who have been spoon fed stories about the wonders of socialized medicine their whole lives while never once (until they actually visit Sweden) actually taking the time to visit a country with socialized medicine and seeing it firsthand.

  • Robert||

    But I have the counterexample in my friend Nadine, who got by flying to France quickly got the surgery her private insurer wouldn't pay for, but that she needed. It was done on her husband's France-gov't-provided health plan.

  • Loki||

    I'll confess I've heard that France's socialized system is a lot better than a lot of other European systems. I'm not sure why that is because I honestly don't know enough about how their's works. Maybe they have a lighter regulatory touch and the government mainly sticks to writing checks? Or maybe the majority of their population still use private health care so there's not as many people the government has to pay for? I don't know.

    Hopefully if we ever do go full socialized healthcare here we'll emulate France's system more so than, say, Britain's NHS. But I'm not gonna hold my breath. If we do it, it will be done in the most retarded way possible.

  • epsilon given||

    It's fairly easy to find counterexamples, but we're not talking hard-and-fast rules of mathematics, we're talking about averages over messy populations and systems.

    Consider Great Britain, for example: there's a phenomenon there where your postal code determines whether you get good or bad care--that is, depending on where you live, you can get cancer care almost immediately, or you could wait a year or more for it. /On average/, however, you can expect to wait over a year...and /on average/, you get faster cancer treatment here in the United States.

    I don't know what circumstances your friend Nadine was facing, but it's possible that she was one of the lucky ones. Thus, before I can pass judgement on France's health care system, I'd have to see the stats (and then deal with all the perils and pitfalls that come with trying to figure out how to match apples and oranges of different statistical methods!).

  • Sevo||

    ..."Up until the 1970s Sweden had strong market-oriented policies in place that increased wealth and standards of living thanks to reforms introduced at the end of the 19th century."...

    Which ignores the pile of money made trading with the Nazis in WWII, long after there was any threat of retribution if they didn't.
    SKF bearings substituted nicely for the German bearings bombed out of production.

  • Robert||

    How does that ignore it? That's market-oriented, isn't it? You serve underserved markets, you clean up.

  • Sevo||

    ^Sarc or stupidity?

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    My wife and I attended an International Students social event at a large University recently. While there, we were talking to a female Swedish student who told us that she had a very complicated kidney operation. Everything turned out fine and she only had to pay $30.00 U.S. equivalent. I guess the benefits of Health care in Sweden all depend on who you talk to.

    It was also noted that Sweden (neutral since 1809) does not have to spend the huge amounts the U.S. spends on policing the world (also known as "defense"). In any event, Sweden with all those "Socialist Programs" is still not a dictatorship. They even have a royal family that no one hears about much. That must be because they (The Swedish Royal Family) does not get into trouble that much.

  • Harun||

    So she pays zero in taxes?

    Or does she pay 50% of her income in taxes which also paid for her operation?

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Harun,

    Good point. Good question. Yes, she did mention that Swedes pay high taxes to get their healthcare. She did not indicate 50%. And she made it a special point that their healthcare system is very good.

    Nevertheless, no matter what Americans say, the Swedish health care system is not anywhere near "ObamaCare". The Swedish system is probably superior in many respects by comparison with the U.S. System.

    Put all this together, it is probably unfair to compare Swedish anything to the U.S., including meatballs. However, the Swedes sure as hell don't have to support a gigantic defense system that is eating up a lot of American taxes.

  • TallDave||

    Glad someone finally wrote this article, been telling people about this for years.

  • Black Liberty Unchained||

    Lets see how fast the generous welfare state collapses when they open up immigration to poor people from third world countries. The last remnants of socialism can survive longer than expected if they can keep sweden all white country club private party paradise.

  • Harun||

    Waiting a year for an operation.

    How does that figure into the cost of healthcare? On the books its a zero cost to the government.

    For a person, its extremely costly.

    Single Payer is not the end of the world, but people need to be eyes wide open about it. You will get industrial care - its cheaper. You will get decent treatment - if you have the most common problem. You may get better treatment - this happens everywhere - doctor shopping has to be done in any system. You may not even know what bad treatment you are getting - if they don't offer the newest cancer meds from America, and you don't know that, you won't realize you just got sub-standard care but saved the taxpayers and the system a bunch of budget.

    Yes...money is still involved in decisions in Single Payer.

  • Harun||

    I should also note if we were to go single payer, you want to keep as much consumer choice in the system as possible - like France and not like the UK.

    You want vouchers or tax credits, or reimbursements.

    That way bad hospitals and doctors can be "fired" by the system.

  • Black Liberty Unchained||

    And if you die on a waiting list for surgery you have done an honorable thing for your country. I'm sure families get comfort knowing the state saved some money. Gotta do whats best for society.

  • Duelles||

    Good for the Swdes. Yea !

  • Will Nonya||

    A glimpse of our future.

  • ibcbet||

    the relevant choice is not between the the socialized American system and the socialized Swedish system.

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