Thursday, August 27, 2009

Health Care Stories: Gothenburg, Sweden

Désirée gives us the pluses and minuses of the Swedish system.

There is a saying in Sweden that goes "The health care is for free but not for free," meaning that the health care for the individual is for free (almost) but for the population it is not, since it is financed by taxes.

It costs a small fee for visiting a doctor if you are 20 years or older, the visit costs nothing for children and teens. Staying at hospital and treatment there is free apart from a small sum that is supposed to be what it would have cost to be at home, healthy, again if you are adult. Children always get free healthcare.

Pregnant women also get care for free. We have a very well-developed care for future mothers and birth care.

Medicines, however, are not free, but there is a limit on how much you need to pay a year for essential medicines.

One interesting thing that is often joked about is that Swedes' teeth don't belong to the body. Dental care is not included in our system. The idea is that you can affect your teeth negatively very easily (with sugar, smoking, etc.). Again, children get dental care free.

This sounds great, but there are some negative issues with the system. You often have to wait to get medical care, unless it is a question of life-and-death, emergencies like broken bones or birth care. There are also treatments that are considered too costly to offer, but might make life easier for an individual. Sometimes the doctors do not even know that there is a treatment to be found.

It is possible, however, to seek treatment abroad if sufficient treatment can't be found within the country and then get your money back covering your expenses. But you do have to be able to pay, because you don't get the money in advance. There is also, of course, an issue if it could be found within the country and the need of the treatment.

We have private care as well. Companies might offer healthcare for their employees through private actors, and individuals with finances can get the care they want when they want it.

The government sometimes buys the services from private actors, but the common people do not need to pay more for that. Private actors simply get the same money as the governmental organization would get for the same number of patients. Sometimes they do a better job, sometimes not.

Over all, I think we have a great health care. It has it down sides, but nobody is excluded from qualified care due to lack of money.

Gothenburg, Sweden

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