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Swedes Are Choosing Private Insurance Over Socialized Medicine

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Swedish Parliament

Credit: Christian Gidlöf

by Michael Tennant, The New American

As Americans are being herded down the road to socialized medicine, many Swedes, fed up with just such a healthcare system, are choosing precisely the opposite path. According to the Swedish edition of The Local, an English-language European news site, hundreds of thousands of Swedes, nominally entitled to “free” taxpayer-funded healthcare, are opting to pay extra for private health insurance in an effort to obtain the speedy, high-quality care they are being denied by the public system.

The exact number of Swedes covered by private insurance is a bit difficult to ascertain, but it is at least half a million and possibly close to one million — and growing rapidly. This is a significant number in a country of around 9.6 million people, roughly as many as the Chicago metro area. In 2011, The Local reported that “private healthcare insurance plans have grown a whopping 400 percent in a decade.”

Not everyone is happy with this development, of course. Eva-Lisa Krabbe of the Swedish Association of Health Professionals, a union for Swedish healthcare workers, told The Local, “We think healthcare should be available through the public system. If we have a public system that covers people’s needs, there’s no need for insurance.”

But that is precisely the point: The public system isn’t covering people’s needs, and so they are willing to shell out the extra cash — a standard policy costs about $624 a year, insurance executive Kent Andersson told The Local — on top of the taxes they are already paying for healthcare.

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