Leif Pagrotsky on Health Care in Sweden

Question: Does the Swedish health system stifle innovation?

Pagrotsky: I’m not so sure that our healthcare sector has less innovation that the American one. The way you can look at it is through numbers as statistics and evaluations. People live longer in my country. The number of childbirths that is problematic is higher in the United States. That general health status, if that can be a measurement of the output of health sector is better in all accounts, not only in Sweden, but also in France and other European countries with what you call a socialized healthcare sector. In my country, we have very tough competition between different hospitals, between private practices and public healthcare, but it’s publicly funded and it’s publicly assessed and evaluated, but not necessarily publicly, it’s not necessarily produced under public ownership. I personally sometimes go to a private clinic, sometimes I go to a public clinic depending on what’s convenient, what’s closest, who has the best opening hours, or who I’m going to trust most for the more complicated surgery. And experience shows that the Swedish people prefer public hospitals if what they want to do is more complicated, more advanced. And they can take the nearest clinic if you want some penicillin for a cold, if they want some easy, limited things to take what’s convenient for you. If you want some difficult thing, cancer, heart treatment, then you trust the public health service more. That’s our experience. I have seen no national numbers that speak in favor of the American system in spite of the fact that the American economy, the American people spend twice as much in relation to the total income on healthcare than we do. And in spite of double the sum the amount of money, they get less quality healthcare out of it, as far as I understand.

Leif Pagrotsky cites public-private options, high life expectancy and competitions between hospitals to tout Sweden’s socialized model.

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