Recent reform experience in Sweden supports the premise that key dimensions of a country's health care system reflect the core social norms and values held by its citizenry. The fundamental structure of the Swedish health system has remained notably consistent over the past half century, that is, tax-based fi nancing and publicly operated hospitals. Yet on other, nearly as important,parameters, there has been substantial change, for example, the persistent pursuit for thirty years of a stronger primary care framework and the effort to allow patient choice of doctor, health center, and hospital within the publicly operated system. This particular combination of continuity and change has occurred as traditional Swedish values of jamlikhet (equality)and trygghet (security) have been challenged in an environment shaped by an aging population, changing medical technology, and Sweden's integration into the European Single Market. This article explores the ongoing process of health system development in Sweden in the context of the country's broader social and cultural characteristics.

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