Health policy changes intended to achieve cost control in OECD countries run the risk of reintroducing financial barriers to health care. However, although the problems faced are similar, different countries are dealing with the situation in different ways. For example, Canada and Australia, which share many similarities, have taken quite different policy paths in the last decade: Canada has preserved universal access, whereas Australian policy is promoting a two-tier system through the provision of public subsidies for private insurance. The evidence is that country-specific factors such as institutional arrangements, attitudes, and values intersect with economic and financial factors to shape policy outcomes. Moreover, the Canadian and Australian experiences suggest that in relation to access issues, attitudes and values are the key policy determinants.

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