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Health Policy. 1992;21(2):155-66.

Growth of private medicine in Sweden: the new diversity and the new challenge.

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  • 1Program in Health Policy Studies, University of Michigan, Dearborn 48104.


The growth of private medical care in Sweden has occurred despite the lack of overt encouragement by the long-term Social Democrat government. This can be documented from official government statistics, private insurance sales, media sources, membership growth in the private doctors association, purchase of private risk insurance, growth of private health care organizations and services, and particularly an increase in public sector private contracting. While the percent of the population with private insurance is close to 1%, it is probable that over 20% of physicians engage in some form of private practice. Explanations range from increasing criticism of poor service orientation in the public system, long waiting lists and the reduced rate of public spending, to a general atmosphere that asserts more individual choice. With the Social Democrats now out of power, it is likely that the Moderate coalition will officially promote some forms of privatization. What will be the impact on the long-cherished Swedish principle of equity?

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