Monday, July 26, 2010

The Truth About Healthcare in Sweden

Hans Palmstierna emails:

It's quite marvellous what living in a socialist society does to your perception and moral. When I read your recent post on the coming cuts to UK healthcare, my spontaneous thought was :

"Doesn't seem to bad. I've heard of worse here at home. "

Having lived my entire life in a public healthcare system, I guess I am not fully able to grasp what it would mean to actually be able to rely on getting the healthcare necessary, if and when you need it. Healthcare in Sweden is good, assuming you get it. Everyone knows that to get it you have to be a large enough pain in the behind of bureucrats, doctors, hospital staff and/or anyone else that might help you in your quest for care just to make you go away. Just as an example, we have lots of people dying while they wait for surgery. Old people generally don't get really risky treatments (hip replacements? dont think so). The thing that frightens me the most is that I just shrug and say "whats new?". I recall a history of a woman who hurt her neck and had a constant headache for three or four years, until she finally went to another country where they performed a simple surgery that kept the bones in her neck stable. She paid something like a years salary for this - but if it weren't for foreign healthcare she would have had a head-ache for the rest of her life. Why? The surgery wasn't standardized in Sweden, considered too risky, and bureucrats therefore kept standing in her way.

I guess it will be harder for those of you who have actually had real healthcare - I just make sure not to get sick, mostly....


  1. I find HP's comments interesting because on his old blog that I used to visit and on which I used to discuss/argue these things with him, HP insisted on the idea that Sweden's socialism was somehow softer, more benevolent and/or more competent than other countries' because they had a longer history of it and they seemed to culturally take it more seriously/have more respect for it.

    This seems like something of a diversion from that previous line of thinking at the very least.

  2. They may not have realized how cold blooded it really is.

    My grandmother is a hypochondriac and has demanded dozens of unnecessary procedures, not to mention medications, that she doesn't need. If anyone in my family could have vetoed a lot of her stuff, we would have. Only - it's not our choice what she does with her health, and it sure as shooting shouldn't be a bureaucrat's.

    The thing is, she is also legitimately in bad health. It is terrifying to me that the Aricept she needs, the surgeries for her broken shoulder, and all of her other care will be cut off and she'll be given a couple of aspirin or (a la the UK) fast-tracked to death and euthanized. Because she is expensive, but when she's expensive to us, we shrug and pay it, because we love her and value her life.

  3. My follow up was somewhat random. What I meant was, if you're accustomed to chucking the elderly and infirm out on ice floes, you may not realize that civilized people don't chuck the elderly and infirm on ice floes. Ice floes seem like a reasonable option, without another frame of reference.