Sweden is Privatizing Health Care

Despite its reputation as a leftwing utopia, Sweden is now a laboratory for rightwing radicalism. Over the past 15 years a coalition of liberals and conservatives has brought in for-profit free schools in education, has sliced welfare to pay off the deficit and has privatized large parts of the health service…

As the state has been shrunk, the private sector has moved in. Göran Dahlgren, a former head civil servant at the Swedish department of health and a visiting professor at the University of Liverpool, says that “almost all welfare services are now owned by private equity firms”…

Business-backed medical chains have sprung up: patients can see a GP in a center owned by Capio, be sent to a physician in the community employed by Capio, and if their medical condition is serious enough end up being treated by a consultant in a hospital bed in St Göran, run by Capio. For every visit Capio, owned by venture capitalists based in London and Stockholm, is paid with Swedish taxpayers’ cash.

The Guardian. HT: Tyler Cowen.

Comments (7)

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  1. August says:

    “During an hour-long presentation to the Guardian, St Göran’s chief executive, Britta Wallgren, says the 310-bed hospital, serving 430,000 people, outperforms state-owned rivals inside and outside the country.”

    But keep in mind that there is still a single payer.

    “In healthcare, companies drive up standards. We pay 5,000 Swedish krona [£465] a patient on average. We force people to compete on the quality of service and treatment.””

  2. Mae says:

    “Capio stresses that St Göran has low levels of hospital-acquired infections, and patient surveys record high levels of public satisfaction. It has also produced year-on-year productivity gains – something the state cannot match. ”

  3. Gabriel Odom says:

    Sweden isn’t the only place this has worked. The Geisinger Health System has implemented a results-based compensation model in recent years with excellent results.

  4. Neil Caffrey says:

    Europe has been realizing many of their governing philosophies will not work, however, the US hasn’t learned.

  5. Studebaker says:

    I’ve heard about this. The Swedes will never be accused of going Libertarian. But they (apparently) are beginning to understand the role of incentives.

  6. Bob Hertz says:

    Sweden is indeed getting away from state-owned facilities and moving toward vouchers with consumer choice.

    And that is good.

    But each Swede still pays for health insurance through taxes.

    Use schools as the analogy.

    We can collect taxes and have only public schools. Ouch.

    We can collect taxes and give each parent a voucher for their child’s education. Much better.

    But should we slash taxes, and make each parent pay for education on their own? This only appeals to pure libertarians and social darwinists.

    That is NOT what Sweden is doing. They may be privatizing the provision of services. They are not privatizing who pays for services.

  7. Kyle says:

    Important distinction Bob.