Changes in the health care sector in Greece since the pathbreaking introduction of the National Health System (NHS) in 1983 have been sluggish. Twenty years after its inception and a series of attempts to reform it, the NHS remains centralized, fragmented in terms of coverage, and quite far removed from its principles of equity and effi ciency. Being part of an idiosyncratic welfare state, the health care system is bound to refl ect the particularities of Greek society and economy, namely, clientelism, a weak formal—and a thriving informal—economy, the lack of a strong administrative class, a weak labor movement, and strong organized interests. As a result, several ambitious reform plans have failed repeatedly owing to an array of interrelated economic, political, and social factors that channel potential changes toward the trodden path. This constellation creates unfavorable conditions for the introduction and implementation of major reforms.

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