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Beyond the insults: Swedish Model 2.0

The Local · 16 Sep 2009, 16:35

Published: 16 Sep 2009 16:35 GMT+02:00

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In the ongoing campaign against president Barack Obama’s ambitions to reform the US health care system, one of the worst insults has been ”Swedish.” Obama wants to make a Sweden out of the US – which he of course denies.

Conservative TV personality Bill O’Reilly asks his audience: “Do we really want to change America into Sweden?” The answer is evident.

Times change. In 1956, US Democrat Adlai Stevenson’s campaign used Sweden as a model. That was the sort of welfare system America should have. Well, Stevenson lost, and at that time Sweden had about the same level of taxes and public sector size as the US.

Since then, the notion of “Sweden” in some American discussions has been equal to “Socialism.”

That is a stereotype, and – frankly – not true.

Sweden has always been on the side of the market economy. And to talk about Sweden as a socialist country has always been pretty far off the mark.

Sure, Sweden has high taxes – but so do most European countries, and the Swedes are no longer the hardest taxed people on earth (the Danes are).

And to compare with the US: Sweden has no inheritance tax, no wealth tax, and the tax on real estate is lower than in most US states.

Swedish pensions are nowadays partly financed by people themselves on a kind of individual basis.

Most new schools that open in Sweden are private, as are the preschools.

Actually, even on the railroads there is private competition – private train companies have the right to use the railroad and in Stockholm the subway is partly private.

This spring, Christian Science Monitor published an article painting Sweden as a capitalist paradise, “a bastion of market capitalism.”

This, too, is an exaggeration.

But Sweden has privatized some of the tasks once carried out by the Swedish postal service and, recently, the pharmacies.

The next step is a broad privatization and increased freedom of choice (for the customers) in the health care sector.

This development of competition and privatization has been politically controversial at the level of details, but not when it comes to the overall course. Many of the liberal reforms were initiated under the last social democratic government.

So is there a “Swedish Model 2.0”? Yes, I would say so.

Story continues below…

The Swedish Model of today is characterized by the combination of public – and to some extent equal – funding and competitive production. This is why Sweden will probably never be a tax haven.

Health care guarantees and the public funding of education will exist all over the country and provide a measure of public control. But the fact that most of the individual services are privately owned and operated gives consumers power and a better chance for adaptation to shifting conditions.

That is far from socialism, but nor is it the neo-liberalism attributed to Sweden by the Christian Science Monitor.

Olle Wästberg, Director-General of the Swedish Institute

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:58 September 16, 2009 by mibrooks27
I'm an American who actually lived in Sweden. I, and my family, loved it. Sweden's universal medical coverage and the generally moderate attitudes of Swedish people are not something to be critical of. (The Swedish tax authority was overweening and unreasonable, though so was their U.S. counterparts For *most* of my stay, I ended up paying full Swedish and U.S. taxes, 108% of my salary! I felt like road kill, with both governments picking over my corpse.) The current "criticisms" in the U.S. are merely idiots conjuring up boogymen. Most American's, at least outside of the Northwest, where I live, are completely ignorant of Scandinavian society and will believe anything. You can safely ignore the blathering and criticisms of the idiots here who prey upon that ignorance.
00:41 September 17, 2009 by Canada_Girl
Americans are always bashing systems that they know are superior to their own. As a Canadian, I hear this tripe frequently. I believe that health-care systems like ours go against the basic mentality of many Americans. They do not see that having healthy citizens is to the benefit of the whole community/country. The US mentality is very much look out for #1 - yourself.
03:21 September 17, 2009 by Greg in Canada
In truth, Sweden's health care doesn't get much mention by the American conservative press. It's Canada's health care system that they slander constantly since we're neighbors, despite the fact that virtually every study has demonstrated that the Canuk government system is far more effecient and cost effective that the US private system that leaves 42 million Americans without health care. I've lived in both Canada and the USA and will take the Canadian (or Swedish) healthcare system any day over the US version.
13:22 September 17, 2009 by donaswe
American people has an expectation of life about, more or less, 72/75 years. European Western Countries inhabitants have an expectation of life obuot 7/8 year more tha american. What a stupid who says that we are in a 'communist system'! We guarantee healthcare for all! Healthcare is a right for a modern democratic state! But american prefer buy three houses, 4 SUV, and 5 weapons per family, but don't have a healthcare!...congratulations!...I'm proudly european!
17:06 September 17, 2009 by Marc the Texan
I think Sweden is 50 years ahead of the US. In so many, many ways.
19:32 September 17, 2009 by efm
Sweden is 50 yrs ahead of what?? C"mon. My SAAB is worse than my Toyota!

Americans don't think that health care is a right, but a personal matter.

Actually a recent survery showed that 85% of Americans are happy with their health care. Those 45 mil. who are not insured are in a tough way, but they also get their care, thru medicaid, govt help, insurance and paid by others thru taxation. It's not as bad as Scandinavians think. You folks are also as hypercritical, and ignorant of the US system.

3 HOuses, 4 SUVs and 5 weapon per family?, you guys must be watching too much TV.
00:13 September 18, 2009 by jag2009
@Marc the Texan

That is ridiculous... Sweden is not 50 years ahead of the US in anything!! Let alone europe. I think Sweden is more lacking behind in europe than anything. Also when you hear about all this tax the Swedish get... lets get onething straight.... In America you pay for your healthcare,if you got money you can have anything like always.... in the UK we pay the same amount on tax , plus then the 7% National Insurance plus the prescription fees. So I think the swedish should stop the moaning about tax as the danish dont seem to be.
05:33 September 18, 2009 by soultraveler3
"Conservative TV personality Bill O'Reilly asks his audience: "Do we really want to change America into Sweden?"

Just a fyi, the only americans that listen to or believe any of the bs that comes from this guy are xenophobic, super conservative idiots.

They're the same small group of morons that don't want healthcare for everyone, are afraid of gay people and minorities, think women are inferior, love guns and want creationism taught in schools.

There are alot of people out there that make the mistake of believing the above statements are true of most americans. I'm american and don't agree with any of the things above and I don't know american that does. I even grew up in the midwest where these thoughts are supposed to be most prevalent.

Yeah, there are some americans that are rednecks, but there are rednecks everywhere. The problem in america unfortunately, is that these people often scream the loudest and historically have had a much higher percentage of active voters than the much larger majority that opposes them.

America definately has some problems and some are different than the problems EU countries deal with. I'm not by any means some super patriotic american. It gets old always having to explain to swedes that most of us aren't super christian, most of us don't think we should be in middle east and that most of us hate and feel ashamed that Bush was our president.

What was the purpose of this report? To contribute to the sterotype that americans think they're superior or to continue the sterotype of swedes being too sensitive?

I don't know where efm got his stat that 85% of americans are happy with their health insurance either. Everything I've seen or read says that a large majority believe that we are in serious need of a major overhaul. I also worked in pharmacy for 10+ years in the states and had to deal with the fact that people were very unhappy with their insurance everyday.
08:11 September 18, 2009 by Harding00
@EFM you stated that "Those 45 mil. who are not insured are in a tough way, but they also get their care, thru medicaid, govt help, insurance and paid by others thru taxation." That is true in the US for people who make very very little, or no money at all. But for a full year before I moved to Sweden (I am an American) I had no health insurance but made "too much" to qualify for health care through either the federal government or through New York State. I did not have enough money to purchase my own health care, and I worked for a small construction business that couldn't afford health insurance for it's employees. And no, I did not have a new car, big TV or anything fancy The only debt I had was from student loans. And the only reason I had that debt was because American society bassically says you MUST go to college. And unlike the Swedish university system here, I had to PAY for my education. I also looked up getting private health insurance, the cheapest I could find, based on my age, sex, location, etc, was over $350 a month for basic basic coverage. How is this fair? Right now I am unemployed because I am still taking Swedish classes and can't find a job right now. But guess what? I'm covered if I get hurt or sick. And if I need surgery for whatever reason I don't need to worry about going into debt like many people in America, even those who have health insurance. I am very glad I know live in a country that cares about the health of it's people.
08:14 September 18, 2009 by satan
Hey efm,

2 things:

I live in the US and Toyota isn't American.

Why don't you list the source of your "survey"? and FOX News doesn't count.
13:12 September 18, 2009 by davidmc
Canada and Sweden are ahead of the US in health care. Why bring up guns? What does gun ownership have do with it. Don't Canandians and Swedes own guns? They may even own more guns than US citizens.
17:58 September 18, 2009 by efm
Hi Satan,

I live in the US too. Toyota is not an American company but most of their cars are now manufactured or assembled in US except for Lexus. Honda, Nissan, Subaru, VW, BMW also make some of their cars in the USA.

I'm saying in all honesty, my American made Camry is much better that that high priced SAAB I had before!

I also work in health care(US), and survey showed about 80-85% of Americans are happy with their coverage. Of course the minority is a big number too, and we have to work on that.

About FOX, if you have been in the US for a long time, you will note that FOX is extremely right wing. Of course MSNBC, is also tilted to the left. YOu have to watch these things and balance it out yourself.

For Harding 00, I'm sorry that you don't have health insurance and left the country. For many years, I don't have it too, but I stayed in the US, now I can pay for it myself.

Surely there is no perfect system.

Canada and Sweden is not ahead of US. We just have our own problems and you have yours too.

O'Reilly is so partisan, you justcan't believe everything he says.
18:51 September 18, 2009 by nneville
I think every American, and those familiar with life in the USA, that has lived for an extended period here should take this opportunity to reveal the benefits of having a responsible health care, non profit, system. Be it Sweden or any other country. Right now the US is being bombarded by propaganda via the corporate media. Bombarded with latent racist and post WWII rhetoric. My fellow Americans are so flawed with their sense of patriotism but are inept in solidarity for all human well-being. We would rather rally around sending some gazzillion dollar probe to some distant planet to say we did it first, than to hold responsible and regulate the insurance companies who's only goal is to make money by denying necessary coverage for those who desperately need it and have paid for their insurance for years.

More than 30% of all bankruptcies in the US are either directly or indirectly caused by medical expenses. But Americans don't have he benefit of truth being exposed. They don't have the opportunity to have someone to be "patient" with their rage to discuss and explain the other, and more truthful, point.

Engage them in conversation. Be "patient" and tolerant of their ignorance. Some are a lost cause for sure, but most aren't. Every European country has a lot to share with the US as far as citizen/human rights/liberty. Don't bother trying to account with what Fox News has to offer. It's all "Jerry Springer" with better graphics.

Challenge anyone who doubts the system in Sweden. Their answers are not their own, because they have not taken the time to think. News ADHD!
20:39 September 18, 2009 by ironman294
@ soultraveler3

Just a fyi, the only americans that listen to or believe any of the bs that comes from this guy are xenophobic, super conservative idiots.

They're the same small group of morons that don't want healthcare for everyone, are afraid of gay people and minorities, think women are inferior, love guns and want creationism taught in schools.

Wow is everything you have said in your post a generalization or what? have you ever watched O"Reily? No you probably just listen to what biased groups like Moveon, Huffpo and media matters.

Of course you dont know anyne who watches O"Reilly because people lke you don't want to hear a different opinion. Unlike you liberals, conservatives like me have friends of all shapes, sizes, religions, sexual orientation.

I'll bet you are a raised christian or catholic but now reject that, but openly embrace Islam, buddhism, and wicca and every other religion except christianity

You probably hate America and criticize it and paint anyone who is chirstian, conservative, traditional values as rednecks as democtrated by your post.

I also suspect you are brain dead.

Now you see how destructive and easy it is to generalize?

Try not to do it in the future and find a more diverse group of friends, you can never learn to think for yourself if all you ever hear is the preaching of the choir.

Yeah, there are some americans that are rednecks, but there are rednecks everywhere. The problem in america unfortunately, is that these people often scream the loudest and historically have had a much higher percentage of active voters than the much larger majority that opposes them.

Gee what do you call the democrats, code pink, the ACLU? They arent loud mouthed idiots and morons who shout down everyone they dont agree with?

America definately has some problems and some are different than the problems EU countries deal with. I'm not by any means some super patriotic american. It gets old always having to explain to swedes that most of us aren't super christian, most of us don't think we should be in middle east and that most of us hate and feel ashamed that Bush was our president.

You hit the nail on the head you aren't patriotic at all and you probably hate Christians. You probably blasted President Bush all the time and disrespected him, now you are probably trying to make the other side respect Obama. I give the office all te respect it deserves even if I didn't vote the president in. It's easy to like the president when it's your guy, but it shows more character when you respect the guy you didn't vote for.

Please stop posting generalizations and hating on your own people, there are enough haters already.
21:13 September 18, 2009 by raythewatchman
The incredible thing about this discourse is its civility. If this were the comments section of an American newspaper it would be filled with insults and epithets, not a civil exchange of ideas. Must say something about the readers of this fine insitution. Thank you.
22:10 September 18, 2009 by efm
An an American and registered "independent", I find amusing the generalization and stereotyping of America by Europeans. I'll bet we Americans are also guilty of the same stereotyping of Swedish and other people.

Now if we add Conservatives and Liberal Americans to this mix, then the line is drawn and somehow, there's going to be a bombshell from both sides and people are not going to find a common ground. That's the drawback of politics.

I must admit we have future problems in "funding" the growth

of cost of UShealth care. To me, there is no right or left solution. We just have to pay more taxes to pay for those who cannot afford, and have basic health coverage. I do not think it is going to be a Swedish Style system. I'm hoping for one that will cover the young, the poor and unemployed, but the rest of us have to pay more. Now for those you are lucky enough to have more resources, they can add plan B or C or

a "Cadillac" plan that can take them to Mayo or Johns Hopkins. It does not mean that the basic plan is bad, it just gives other people who can afford more options.
22:31 September 18, 2009 by Harding00
One thing I don't like about the capitalistic style of health care is that "if you can pay more you can get more. And if you can't pay, well, you SOL." I don't think that's right. Doesn't everyone have the right to good quality health care, no matter if they work at a fast food restaurant or if they're an executive at a company. I don't have a problem with capitalism, I think it is fine, but not when it comes to health care. Why should certain people be allowed to receive better health care and live, while others who can't afford it die (or be in debt for the rest of their lives)? Why should health care be a commodity to be bought and sold? When you have a good job and can afford (or receive through your employer) health care/insurance then you don't tend to worry about those who can't afford it. But when you don't make enough to pay for it yourselves, then you tend to worry.
23:44 September 18, 2009 by BUSHGIRLSGONEWILD
As a third generation American of Finnish/Swedish descent, who supports a universal health care plan for the U.S., I am embarrassed by the Americans who are ignorant of reality and swallow whatever the right-wingers tell them. Years ago I read a post by an American callling himself "Captain America" that he had health care through his empoyer because it's the law. the right-wingers even lie if it suits their agenda- no federal law in the U.S. requires an employer to provide health care. Capitalism in American prevents improvement whenever that improvement threatens their profit. There are Death Councils in Amercia, they are called insurance companies. Maybe soon this will change; Churchill said that Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other options...
00:18 September 19, 2009 by soultraveler3
WTG Ironman!

Yelling and accusing people of being unpatriotic because they disagree with you.

There will always be exceptions to the rule. Since it's impossible to ask everyone their pov, generalizations become necessary in debate that involves broad ideas.

In response to your accusations about me personally I would have to argue that you are incorrect on many levels and possibly need to look in the mirror before you start calling others something you obiviously are.

I have friends from every walk of life. This may come to a surprise to you, but we're able to have respectful debates with one another. We can vehemently disagree and still be friends.

I understand where you're trying to go with your objections to generalization but making yourself look like a patronizing @ss while doing so doesn't help promote your ideas.

Traditionally the largest majority of voters have been older, white christians. The Bush Jr era brought back the conservative rhetoric of saying if you're not with us, you're against us. If you disagree with the government you obiviously hate America and are unpatriotic. BS.

Besides being hurtful, dividing, and inflammatory, it's just plain wrong. American wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for people disagreeing with and standing up against government.

When it comes to showing respect to an elected offical and their office republicans have no room to talk. Democrats may have disagreed with Bush Jr. and been very vocal about it but we were tame compared with what some conservatives are doing now.

Shouting "you lie" at the president during an offical address is respectful? Or having "town hall" meetings where people compare Obama to Hitler, threaten to bring guns and carry around signs depicting the president as a monkey?

Is it respectful to the president or to citizens for certain members of the republican party to circulate lies about "death panels" and coverage for illegal aliens to manipulate and scare people into voting against something that would help almost everyone?

The only thing a public option in healthcare would hurt is the bottom line of insurance companies and the politicans they have in their pockets.

One last thing, about my being brain dead. I'm a member of a well known IQ society. Are you? :)
00:29 September 19, 2009 by aairon

More bible thumping, Rightwing wacko retoric.

Cry me a tear for bush the killer swine.
05:31 September 19, 2009 by cogita!
To all teabagging European bashing wealthcare enthusiasts.To think that we started your place and it ended up in a Scrooge system based on greed. Makes you sick.

Corporate America´s shock jock propaganda masquerading as free speech is rivaling Goebbel´s

demagoguery. For all their self-rightious gawdy talk, they love wallstreet more than Jesus

Why should we care if they slander our healthcare systems as bolshevik. I´ve never heard of medical bankruptcy in Europe. Nor in Canada, come to think of it.So why are we fighting uncle sam´s wars. We should stop being his lacky.
23:06 September 19, 2009 by Coalbanks
Actually Canada & Sweden ARE ahead of the USA in some aspects of health care, esp universality UNTIL RECENTLY. Canada provides the same level of health care to all (OK aborigionals on reserves & others living in isolated areas may have to travel to a larger centre for some procedures as full service hospitals are not feasible in small isolated communities). Canadian medical practioners have always had the option of not participating in the gov't funded health care system - until recently few did (I know an MD of the pre-medicare days -prior to 1964 - who remembers being paid with hogs, eggs, milk - I remember when my family paid in these items as cash was scarce on the farm). Recently medical practitioners have been going private as there are enough wealthy patients to make this feasible at this time. (Just watch the switch back as incomes decline.) Some practioners provide procedures not on the gov't funded menu of services ie cosmetic surgery. Aside from being able to charge higher fees than the gov't pays these practitioners can receive a retainer fee paid monthly by the "client" who would otherwise not get served. HEALTH CARE AS A UNIVERSAL RIGHT IN CANADA? NOT SO MUCH ANYMORE.
05:44 September 21, 2009 by engagebrain
The US spends about 15% of GDP on health care

Sweden and the UK around 7-8% and we live longer.


The US spends about double for a system the excludes, or seriously rations, a large section of the population.

The joker is bureaucracy, the costs of running insurance and coporate profits. There is also a continuous battle between the insured and their insurers about what is actually covered. Ditch this huge part of the cost and Americans could have universal care at lower cost.
11:57 September 21, 2009 by Davidiand
I think you will find that students here have to make a substantial contribution to their education also!


"And unlike the Swedish university system here, I had to PAY for my education."
15:07 September 21, 2009 by calebian22
Soultraveller 3-

Bush Jr was booed by Democrats in Congress. Is that respectful? Wilson's outburst was uncalled for but it certainly wasn't unprecedented. As a member of an IQ society, you should have a better memory.
15:12 September 21, 2009 by Jadarra
Sometimes I really wish we could get all the political propaganda out of the way first. For those US liberals, there were plenty of protests when Bush was president saying he was hitler. For those conservatives, I see that you too have taken to silly protests calling Obama hitler. So, there are plenty of idiots on both sides -- now everyone is even and we can discuss the issue at hand.

As an American who is now living in Sweden, I think those making a decision about healthcare, or those affected by the decision, should have an opportunity to experience both systems. I, for one, would say that comparing the American healthcare system to the Swedish system is like comparing a Geo Metro to a Volvo. When we lived in America, my entire paycheck basically went to cover daycare and healthcare for my family. In Sweden, my husband pays high taxes, but it's nothing compared to the cost we had in America and we still had co-pays and deductables. The birth of our daughter, even with insurance, cost us over $3000 (u.s.), we are pregnant again and this pregnancy has cost us $0. On top of that, the quality of healthcare we've received has just been amazing. Our ultrasound in america took five minutes and basically consisted of 'yep, there she is, that's her head and see her little hands?' Our ultrasound here took 40 minutes and they showed us every bone, every developing part, little pieces of the brain, counted the heartbeats with us, measured everything that could be measured. It was amazing! We had a miscarriage in the states and the doctor wouldn't even see me, just said 'it happens, you're not even in your second trimester, there would be no point to come in.' We had a miscarriage here and I was placed on a pedestal and treated with so much compassion I couldn't believe it.

As someone stated, why is healthcare a commodity to milk the highest amount of dollars from the individual? Why are lives something to barter over? Why are insurance companies run by bankers? I'll gladly take the swedish system over the american system any day and I live every day reassured that my daughter and soon to be son are covered should anything happen to them.
17:45 September 21, 2009 by Harding00

I stand by what I said about free education here. As far as I know there is no tuition (except as my wife says, you pay about 500 SEK per year in fees, not even $100) and you get money from CSN every month, which is plenty enough to pay for books. I am not talking about the school paying for your room or your food, but technically that's not part of your education, it's part of your living expenses. And if you can live home while going to school, then you have no reason to get any loans, unless of course you "have" to have a new car, etc. According to my Swedish wife, CSN gives you about 2500 SEK per month for the months you are in school. That means you could work during the summer, and get a part time job during the school year (something I did while in college, on top of having to get loans for my education and living expenses) and you would have no reason to get out a loan. Compare that to the US system where you not only have to pay for education, lots of fees, but in some schools, like my State school in New York, I HAD to live on campus for the first two years and buy a school meal plan. And living off campus was much cheaper. (Also, it cost me over $15,000 (about 120,000 SEK per year to pay for tuition, books, fees, food and a room I shared with someone else with a bathroom down the hall. Tuition and fees at my state school was over $6000 a year http://www.suny.edu/Student/paying_tuition.cfm ) Even the school system in the US is a capitalistic, "gotta make as much money as we can," system. And I don't think either that or health care should be run that way. I think everyone has the right to health care and an education.
19:23 September 21, 2009 by mibrooks27
engagebrain - Wrong! The U.S. spends 19% of GDP on healthcare and has been rated at the very bottom of quality and delivery of health services. It has the worst record for all western country's, coming in at 37th. Likewise, the average American lives 8 fewer yeas than the average European (even with rates of tobacco and alcohol use being higher for European's). The U.S.'s version of run-amuck capitalism is feeding upon itself, right now, and you get a front row seat, watching an entire country rip itself apart. Consider the death of the U.S. a lesson in what will happen to you in the new "global economy" if your investor class, corporations and banks have any say in your future.
20:42 September 21, 2009 by efm
Despite all our problems in the USA, don't call it the death of the US yet! This is a big giant. We can decide that times are really tough, and we'll stop buying your Europeans goods, cars, etc., and so we might decide to bring you down with us.

LOL.... But we still have alot of resources(food), unlimited productive land. We don't need all these junk from Europe anyway. That may be the good thing. We'll make our own here and we are going to turn it around to your dismay.
21:25 September 21, 2009 by Mike #1986
first I can't speak to much about the american healthcare system because Ive never lived there.. but man can I say alot about the Swedish rubbish they speak so well about..first coming from Sydney our Medical service around the city and surburban district makes the swedish system look like yes 30 years back..

true no joke..first back in oz its free ..second it has all the facilities you may need to not over load the main hospitals ..and you rarely need to book a time if your ill.

and all this service for less income tax..less sales tax (moms) ..

so just for the sake of not debating it further I fractured a finger in sweden went to the medical center in sweden to get it x-ray and checked to bad they couldn't because they had no x-ray machines a couple of hundred went there...then I went further to the hospital emergency another few hundred krona there and 2 hour waiting finally upstairs for some x-rays ..hang on another few hundred krona and finally yes its fractured thank you.. all that tax money for what...the system doesn't even work and its over rated and expensive ...with all those cost I could have had medicare private.
21:39 September 21, 2009 by Leprehcaun
@ efm

You could have said it better but it still fits the requirement. You said it like a stereotypical hated f-ing yankee. I am so going to quote you while pointing out that my English is better. L0L @ U and I hope to (non-existing) god that you will never come to Sweden.
05:30 September 22, 2009 by copp3rred
mibrooks27: If you paid taxes both in the US and Sweden you must either be EXTREMELY wealthy (like as rich as the Bushes) or not seen a 1040 up close and personal. No American actually does this, since the law clearly states that the IRS will credit you the tax paid in another country up to your expected US tax, which 99.9% of the time the other country's exceeds the US's.

Sweden's system works out well, if you understand that you can't just sit back and have things served to you like some rich, spoiled brat. You definitely have to do more leg work, but since I'm not one to give up easily, I've find no problem. In the US I am both fortunate to have an excellent healthcare plan, an excellent doctor and the income to afford both; a frightening number of people have neither. I believe, as many people do, that this is unacceptable, and while our solution will be different than Sweden's, it also must change.
05:33 September 22, 2009 by Lillemor Anderson
It appears that everyone that has writtenin ,knows Very little about the US System of Health Care. I'm associated Community Health Centers in CA. There are 1000's of Clinics throughout the US. In our area we have 22 Clinics. We employ over 400 people and have a yearly budget of approximate 50 (fifty) million dollars. Some paid by Insurance,some cash,but most by State and Federal Governments. No one is turned away because of inability to pay. We treat anyone regardless of their condition or ability to pay. --

Our Democratic Member of Congress Lois Capps states; "I am proud to have Community Health Centers of the Central Coast caring for my constituints. They provide essential healthcare services to folks who might not otherwise have access to primary and preventive healthcare.I congratulate CHC for its great accomplishments over the last 30 years"--

In 2007-2008 we had 59.057 patients. We had 273.569 patient visits. Below are the services provided.In about 95% of the time the patients get in the same day. Can you do that in Sweden,Canada or England?I know you can't in Sweden as I've lived there for years,was born and raised in Sweden.

Don't try to B.S. all the people all the time,--because you don't know the truth. Anyone wanting to see these Clinics ,here in CA,I'll personally show you around.


Family Medicine,Internal Medicine,Pediatric Medicine,Woman's Health,OB/GYN,


General Family Dentistry,Teeth Cleaning,Fillings,Root Canals,Extractions.


HIV/AIDS Education,Diabetes Education,Diet&Exercise Regimens,Hypertention Education,Nutrition Counseling,Smoking Cessation,Stress Management,Breast Feeding/Lactation Counseling.




Blood Pressure Checks,Cancer Screening,Confidential HIV/AIDS Testing,Diabetes Testing,Family Planning.


Individual Counseling,Group&Family Counseling,Medication Management,Support Groups.


Group Parental Classes,Lab Work&Prenatal Screenings,Nutritional Counseling,Infant Car Seat Program,Pregnancy Testing,Transportation Services.


Infectious Disease,Neurology,Podiatry,Cardiology.


Community Health Outreach Program (CHOP),Healthcare for the Homeless Program (HCHP),Farmworker Outreach.

What country in the World has anything like this?
10:19 September 22, 2009 by Harding00
@ Lillemor Anderson

I agree, there are free health clinics in some places, but not everywhere. You stated that "There are 1000's of Clinics throughout the US." But the US is pretty big, over 3,700,000 square miles. And lets say there are 5,000 free clinics (and I am guessing, because you said 1000's, and I wanted to be nice), that would be one clinic on average for every 740 square miles. And that was me being nice, if there are only 2,000 free clinics then that's one clinic for every 1,850 square miles. Not really all that great, unless you happen to live in your community in California.

And what happens if someone needs surgery? Does the clinic pay for heart surgery, knee replacement, etc? If that's the case, and people have easy access to this type of free clinic then why do people bother with health insurance at all? As I have posted before, I am an American living in Sweden and I went a year without health insurance before I moved here, and let's face it, I was scared of getting hurt or sick.
10:45 September 23, 2009 by Seltue12
As a U.S citizen in Sweden, I might admit I love the Sweden modern political system. Swedish economy is a developed mixed economy. Sweden has always provided solid support for free trade (except agriculture), free immigration, and strong property rights.. Along with several other European countries, the government here subsidises tuition of international students pursuing a degree at Swedish institutions, although there has been talk of this being changed but still way better then my country. Healthcare in Sweden is similar in quality to other developed nations. The only thing

i dislike about Swedish healthcare is long waiting times before treatment but atleast it free compare to what I am use to paying in the United States.So in total agreement with Mr. Olle Wästberg.
23:44 September 23, 2009 by mibrooks27
Excuse me, but Community Health Centers is a private nonprofit health provider - it's a CHARITY that is largely federally funded to provide health services to people without medical insurance. There are a mere 1,200 of these centers, across the entire U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii and all U.S. territories. They provide only the most basic care for the poor; better than nothing, but not much better. The shameful fact is, the U.S. i in dead last place for quality and delivery of health services for industrialized countries. The current criticisms of Sweden's health care system is from the same health care industry lobbyists that are calling for the assassination of a sitting President. These are the worst sort of scum imaginable; international criminals and terrorists in three piece suits. If you're Swedish, pay no attention them or the stupid drones that believe them. It's all about money and the U.S. pays 19% of GDP for it's second rate healthcare system, about three times as much as the rest of the world, all of that extra money going into the pockets of the already filthy rich animals that run this business in the U.S.
03:40 September 24, 2009 by Canada_Girl
It's quite telling that most of the bashers of the universal healthcare in Canada and Sweden are American. Those who don't live in said countries and participate in their healthcare should keep their opinions, mostly based on incorrect facts, media brainwashing and general ethnocentric ramblings, to themselves.
21:52 September 24, 2009 by corsini
The U.S. can either have a nationalized health care system or the most advanced and capable military in the world but it cannot afford to have both. Either you defund the military (and perhaps NASA) and fund a national health care system or it is simply not affordable. I'm sure Sweden's healthcare system is decent enough but Sweden does not have to spend trillions on a defense budget.
22:54 September 24, 2009 by BroX
"It gets old always having to explain to swedes that most of us aren't super christian, most of us don't think we should be in middle east and that most of us hate and feel ashamed that Bush was our president."

But somehow 'most of us' voted in favour of it all.
04:20 September 25, 2009 by lumia
Wow, seems there is enough back and forth going on here. Look, It's ok to be patriotic, but it's ok to say we don't agree with the way things are being run here too. It's called our constitutional rights. People died horrible deaths for it and we should respect that and excercise it....not abuse it. If you are going to have an opinion and validate it, don't just use what you heard on TV. Especially listening to someone that is only one sided, cause your not getting the full facts, just an FYI to the FOX new fans. Try Watching the news from other countries and you may get more details that are not going to be mentioned in the US. for example, even Wendell Potter, the former CEO of CIGNA claimed that the there is alot of malpractice with the American healthcare system. Also, don't believe all the surveys, statistics, and polls, those depend on who's doing them. I would love to have the healthcare system changed here for the better. You know, I would recommend a great movie called SICKO, to those who think that our healthcare is perfect and wonderful. As far as our advancements, yeah, we are behind, trust me. Or whatever new technology we have is only accessible to a select few. If you were to even leave your comfortable environment in the US and actually travel and percieve the rest of the world with an open mind, you may surprisingly find that we as a nation have some hardcore catching up to do. I mean, come one, europe is able to balance technology and respect for the environment! Wow! You see, the US is huge, but were are still like a whiny teenager who gets mad when the older wiser countries try to give us some guidance. So rather then admiting our faults and make amends for our mistakes in order to mature, we find it much easier just to make other countries seem bad just so we can feel good about ourselves, getting nothing positive accomplished. open your eyes people!
01:45 September 26, 2009 by Captcha
Man, I can't believe how many of the posts present the same old worn out crap. Hating 65% of the people of the United States does not make you a superior person or better liked. Learn some new talking points please.
04:38 September 26, 2009 by Lillemor Anderson
According to Michelle Obama there are more than 7500 service delivery sites around US,to patients regardless of their ability to pay.Charges for services are set according to income. Community Health Centers serve more than 17 million patients,about 40% of whom have no Health Insurance.

The Community Health Centers were a big priority of President Bush,and now of President Obama.--- If anyone belives this is a lie, please contact Michelle Obama.
06:41 September 26, 2009 by Typical Whitey
If Swedes and all Europeans had to pay for their own defense in the Cold War, and even today against Russia/Iran/N Korea - I would understand. America has covered your backs for over 60 years and has patrolled the high seas enabling world commerce. A little gratitude would be nice.

As for the 47 million supposedly uninsured in the US, the true figure is closer to 10 million when one deducts illegal aliens and those who can afford health care but choose not to buy it. The US Constitution only guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - not health care, not free college, not welfare. America was built by Europeans of strong will, strong morals, with a thirst for opportunity (CAPITALISM). This is why America has been the greatest experiment in the history of mankind.

BTW anyone can get free medical service at all emergency rooms - no questions asked.

President Bush had his faults but at least he had guts and morals - both sorely lacking in The Kenyan.
07:21 September 26, 2009 by BUSHGIRLSGONEWILD
Anderson - you lying piece of crap. American has excellent Heath care - if you have money.
19:27 September 26, 2009 by NewinSweden
Sweden is good just in theory..

In theory we have good healt system.. practically.. u have to wait and wait and wait for attention in hospitals. and in the end they send you back home with your problem saying that u have nothing..

Good social syste .. in case you loose your job u have help.. as long as you have sold your house, cars an tv. then government helps.

People live in high conditions.. just look Sweden APARTMENTS in every corner! if you can call the apartments people really live in studios!

Swedish are rich.. psss with the salaries in the market.. you live in limited situations and people think are rich hehehe good hehehe

Sweden is the safest country in the world.. yes just look at rosengarden safety and Swedish mafias , internal wars bombing and explotion hehehe

yeahp keep on dreeming Sweden! hehe

funny Sweden!
02:02 September 27, 2009 by BUSHGIRLSGONEWILD
Legal disclosure: the above comment was made by a 15 year old who did not receive permission to use his parents' computer. He also has notattended public school for 12.5 years.

That said, let us return to the adult's conversation. America has good health care system - but the delivery system is unfair and favors the rich. Profit is more important than care. America needs to "socialize" it's health care system just like it has with fre public education, fire and police services, Medicare, it's veteran healthcare, interstate highways, national parks, and so on - things that Europe adopted after America did it first.

As for Bush, he was a re tard puppet and deserves his place in h e l l.
06:07 September 27, 2009 by randyt
"Canada and Sweden is not ahead of US" says Elm. Elm, I'm sorry to say measured by life expectancy and infant mortality they are way ahead of the US healthcare system.

Life expectancy: Canada is number 8 at 81.23 years, Sweden is number 10 at 80.86 years and the United States is number 50 at 78.11 years. The U.S. is one place ahead of Albania which is at 77.96 years.

Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html

Infant mortality (number of deaths of infants under one year old per 1000 live births):

The United States rate is 6.26 per thousand. Canada's rate is 5.04 per thousand and Sweden's is 2.75 per thousand.

Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

Even Swedish companies in America are better than American companies in most cases in regard to healthcare. I worked for Ericsson until the telecom meltdown. I paid zero for full medical and dental coverage for my wife and me.

For my Texas friends, we have the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, almost one out of every four (24%) Texan has no healthcare insurance. A male in Texas can get not get Medicaid. Children and pregnant women can. We, Texas, are a true Banana Republic(an) State. With any more Republican leadership the complete country will be.

Even the free market companies of Sweden do a better job out side of Sweden for their employees than most American companies. I worked for Ericsson in Texas for nine years, before the "telecom meltdown" and all those years full medical and dental coverage for my wife and me cost nothing, because Ericsson gave us plenty of benefit "dollars". Not any of my friends at Nortel, AT&T, Nokia etc could say that.
16:38 September 27, 2009 by Captcha

Texas would not be a good state to use as an example for healthcare systems. 15% of the 24% of uninsured or illegal aliens for the south. Many illegals receive coverage from their place of employment. There are more illegals in the U.S. from South America than Swedes in Sweden.

Texas is a well governed state. Perhaps you should try panhandling in Massachusetts when your Mom lets you move out. Buy your own damn insurance or do without. Other people are not responsible for you.
18:21 September 27, 2009 by BUSHGIRLSGONEWILD
I agree that illegal aliens tax our Heath care system in Texas and other states along the border - now who gave them amnesty the first time? Ronnie Reagan. Conservatives care more about companies getting cheap labor than Americans having good jobs and access to affordable health care.
00:55 September 28, 2009 by Captcha
Half truth, Gonewild. President Reagan signed the amnesty bill that the legislative branch passed with the written requirement that the border flow would be stopped. The legisative would not fund for follow up and the executive branch did not push it. Both parties were at fault.
01:53 September 28, 2009 by TvAmazon
I'm an American and live close to the Canadian border. I can't speak for Sweden but I do read about people saying it's free in Sweden. It's not free, you pay for it with your taxes. We hear many problems about Canada's healtcare, primarily about expensive procedures like MRI's and such. Since Canda has only about 6 MRI machines in the entire country and the US has many more than that in one large city. Almost every mid-size hospital has an MRI machine. We hear stories about people with tumors and heart disease who have to wait months to get procedures done where as in the US you would usually be checked within a 1 to 5 days. Even though we have millions who don't pay for health insurance, many uninsured just go to a hospital emergency room and get treatment for free.

Our system is not prefect by any measure but just about every American has seen how inefficent most of our government programs operate. We do not wish to have another progam that is slow, and inefficent. Many of the government run programs can not fire employess that continue to perform at very substandard levels. We also see our many of our government officials like President Obama chastize corperate executives for wasteful spending and then turn around do the same thing spending millions to fly him and his wife on a date to New York or flying all around the world or US, vacationing under the guise of business or political trips instead of working on the serious problems in the US.

When many of us see and hear these things we think that an another inefficent government run program that has political ties and influence is not what we want. We also hear about european counties where doctors make decisions about if a family can have a baby that has problems or if an ederly patient should receive expensive treatment given a persons age. We see all these things then think goverment should not be making those decisions but individuals should have the freedom to make those decisions for themselves. Were not sure what the right program is but we are concerned about getting one worse than our current program.
03:16 September 28, 2009 by BUSHGIRLSGONEWILD
I understand American's reluctance to trust their government to run anything, especially after the last 8 years - people who take drink shouldn't drive anymore than people who believe government is evil should govern.
07:36 September 28, 2009 by bettan1
All government everywhere and all political parties within show the same propensity of being a complete failure. One is no better than the other. The only way to truly gage a success of any idealogy or political party philosophy is how well they brain wash and indoctrinate their citizens into believe life is wonderful when it really sucks.

As the article pointed out, "Sweden will probably never be a tax haven" , no kidding. It's not even a haven for running your own business. Try and start up a small business and your tax rate goes through the roof because it is automatically assumed you are some selfish greedy animal who must be shackled before you get out of control and live the lifestyle of one of it's hypocritical leaders.
02:23 September 29, 2009 by Jon in KC
I love reading the comments from both sides. Paraphrased "I belong to and IQ society(Mensa Maybe?) therefore I can't be brain dead." I think water came out of my nose on that one. HA Its like listening to kids on the play ground. Come on people, take a step back and look at what you are saying. The non-Americans on this page are going to think all Americans are idiots, regardless of political affiliation. (Oh and for those curious, I am a conservative that voted for Obama, so I guess that means I am open to attacks from both sides :) )

I think Engagebrain,TVAmazon, and Bushgirlsgonewild said it best. Its not that most Americans are against government run health care, its that we know our government is to inept to do it right. My wife works in the health care industry and she constantly complains about how Medicaid or Medicare doesn't cover or just plain refuses to pay for things some patients need.

I'm not against health care reform, and I hate CEO's pocketing lots of money for no reason, but I also don't trust a government as dynamic as ours is, or so debt laden. I think in order to make the health care reform work without too many complaints, you will have to have a system to prove you paid taxes, say you must submit a W4(think tax receipt for you non-Americans out there) to get health coverage. If you think that anyone inside the country should be covered, then it should be funded entirely by sales tax. Only schools and churches can get by without sales tax. Heck, even illegals pay sales tax.

Now back to the cry babies on this blog. Wow, I mean wow. My wife and I both worked our ways through school. I had the option through my work to get health care but it would have cut my salary in half. So I went without. Thankfully I was not injured and my university had a campus clinic where I could get basic medical care cheaply. Now, I work for a large company, it was American, but now I was just outsourced to a Swedish company, and honestly, my insurance was better under the American company. But I will take what I can get.

As to people being disrespectful, well that goes both ways. We can all find examples to prove we are right and the other is wrong. Unfortunately, no one side will shut up long enough to hear the tidbits of truth coming from either side and put together a plan that will work. Instead we call each other liars, take unloaded guns to speeches, or hire union thugs to keep people away from speeches.

As for stereotypes, I wish I was one, what was it, 3 houses, 4 suvs, and like 5 guns? It was something like that, wow, I wish that was true. I have a truck, that is 11 years old, my wife's car is 15 years old, and we have an apartment. Yup, that's the American dream right there. Oh, and about 28 cents of every dollar I make goes to taxes, and my roads still suck and the American educational system is a joke.

Anyway, I've had enough fun discussing the previous comments for now. It's been a laugh.
05:06 September 29, 2009 by cattie
"If Swedes and all Europeans had to pay for their own defense in the Cold War, and even today against Russia/Iran/N Korea - I would understand. America has covered your backs for over 60 years and has patrolled the high seas enabling world commerce. A little gratitude would be nice".

Firstly...in fairness, Sweden is not part of NATO so theoretically Sweden does not depend on American military defense.

The comment about oceanic transport was great! How could Sweden export cars, telephones, fighter jets or landmines without the US Navy keeping pirates at bay ;)

However, practically speaking, Sweden has very effectively benefited from all it's neighboring countries NATO memberships. It has profited in many ways considering the percentage of the Swedish GNP (BNP) derived from munitions and other defense equipments and technologies. The number 2 biggest money-maker in Sweden, equipping militaries worldwide. If we consider the econimic multiplier, the defense industry (war) is essential to the viability of the Swedish "rights" like universal healthcare.

Educated Swedes don't like to discuss this. Many less educated Swedes are quite unaware. There are propoganda machines in Sweden also. The fact of where much of the wealth comes from in Sweden mutes the whole Hans Blixt in Iraq, Nobel Peace Prize image that they like to polish for themselves. It is hardly ever even alluded to in the Swedish mainstream media or in schools. Well, maybe in the all those engineering schools and Arbetsformedlingen when someone is seeking a job.

If Americans tax dollars did not go to foreign defense...Well, without raising taxes each American could have heatlhcare and a university education and generous pension!
14:04 September 29, 2009 by Captcha
@John in Kansas City, your post was very thoughtful and intelligently presented. I believe many of us enjoy throwing out half-baked ideals, however.
20:06 September 29, 2009 by BoweryBoy
I don't know enough about Sweden yet to come to a fair conclusion of how I view Swedish health care, but I can say with certainty that the Canadians here trying to 'blend in' with Sweden in any way shape or form should be given the boot. A Canadian study released yesterday claims Canadians born today have a life expectancy 10 months greater than an American. I don't see that as a good thing at all.
20:56 September 29, 2009 by efm
Since this is a Swedish forum, I understand the feeling of Swedish people towards their system. I may even allow a certain critique of something American. I find funny & stupid the hyperbole about 4 SUVs and 5 guns/ family! But I find the death of America comment, simply ridiculous.

USA and Sweden will never be alike. We, Americans think in different ways.

I'm back in the USA and not coming back to Sweden.

I like it better here.
23:02 September 29, 2009 by Mack
"Since Canda has only about 6 MRI machines in the entire country and the US has many more than that in one large city."

Moron... do you really believe this? I can't believe the stupidity of people... learn to spell Canada for starters.

"At the beginning of 2005, Canada had 176 MRI scanners..." from

09:28 September 30, 2009 by s242
Mack, are you sure you should be calling other people morons? Before bragging about Canada having 176 MRI machines, you should realize that the US had 10,000 (in 2005). A large US city might well have as many as all of Canada.
23:53 September 30, 2009 by TvAmazon
My apologies Mack for the misspelling. I should have proof read but I do have a software engineering degree for a top US school and own a small business with 8 employees. We do offer medical for our employees unlike what Michael Moore would say. Canada has only 6 MRI CT scanners per million this is very low for an industrialized country. Sweden and Spain have highter numbers than Canada which can have wait times up to 80 days in some hospitals.

You can read this on the Canada.com site from the August 2008 article http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=2f47595a-a12f-43d5-8260-4fc6dcbc596d Based on this article Canada's healthcare is expected to keep declining.

The point is that Canada is by far not a perfect model and many of its citizens have to use US hospitals and clinics to get better and faster treatments. So if you have a serious medical condition you would be better off in the US. Most US citizens as the polls are finding out do not want cheaper worse healthcare but instead want better more cost effective healthcare. It apears that the Japanese model should be given more consideration since it significantly outperforms Canadas.

Please BUSHGIRLSGONEWILD don't make foolish statements about an entire group of people just because they don't agree with you. I have travelled to many European countries several times and almost moved to the UK in late 90's for my company. I was very unimpessed with the UK medical system as well. All that and I still like happen to like Fox News. Maybe you should consider more news sources than just Michael Moore.
03:14 October 3, 2009 by Colonial Swede
As an American I know that some people have a hard time affording health care. But our quality is the best and everyone knows that. We never have to stand in line as I know that you Europeans do. Your "free" health care certainly is not. You pay dearly for it. I wonder if Europe and Canada would even have the health care system that you do if you were providing for your military as you should.
06:57 October 4, 2009 by Bluesuede
Swedish born and bred, US citizen by choice. I have first-hand knowledge of the health care in both countries. That said, I'd rather get sick in the US than in Sweden any old day. There is simply no comparison. Swedish health care is fine for run-of-the-mill illnesses and sniffles but if you need a CT scan, an MRI or surgery be prepared to wait... and wait... and wait. They will probably kill off my sister before she gets the treatment she desperately needs. Her last MD, to whom she was referred to by her primary care physician, diagnosed her over the phone. Never met her. Say what?! Needless to say they screwed things up royally. She's no youngster. I hope she can outlast them while they get all their ducks in a row. :(
05:13 November 26, 2009 by Ravander
To Typical Whitey:

Sweden was very much apart of the cold war, with one foot behind the iron curtain and the other foot in the western hemisphere. Partly because of our location, with the Soviet union as our neighbor. Sharing waters with them. Partly because we were/are neutral. So we did not pay anyone or received any grants or money from the US or it's allies. A big supply of intel was exchanged, from both sides. So we had to pay for our defense, which at the time was a huge apparatus. Mobilizing millions in event of war. When i grew up at the end of the cold war, sirens went off every monday as a drill. Everyday every hour jet fighters flew over my school grounds out to the baltic sea. I know what went on in sweden you don't. Reading helps.....

As to healthcare, all I have to say, living in Texas. Mine is good, my wife's suck. My kids well I don't know... We probably wont be able to afford it, since neither of our plans cover families, at least not at an affordable rate.

Americans like to pride them self in their freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of speech. Like that is something special for them. Which of course is not true, all western countries have that, and often more. The difference between american freedom and say european/canadian/australian freedom. Is that american freedom stems from putting yourself in front of others. Something I'm sure existed in Europe too, pre-WWI. When Europe started changing it's ways. From class system to welfare system. Why is the healthcare discussion so centered on cost, and not even a second is wasted on the pure humanitarian issue. That should really be the topic at hand. Why should I have to pay for someone else? Cause it's the right thing to do. And especially if you call yourself a christian. The meek shall inherit the earth. Psalms 25:9. Meaning the greedy will go to hell? Well I don't believe in hell. I see it as guidance, on how to live your life. Take care of others and you will be taken care of. Instead of having to rely on hand outs from the upper-class, the well to do. No one is my ruler, I will not call you Sir, you are not above me. I am human, as are you.

I also agree that most europeans get a very biased picture of what americans are like. But in general europeans do know more of the world and what is going on around them selves. Simply because news in America don't supply news from around the world unless it's about war somewhere in a developing country. And social studies here are a joke. My 12 year old son has basicly no geography, no world history, no religous studies. It's so centered on America, I sometimes wonder if he even knows another world exists out there? Of course he has me to guide him. Home schooling seems like an option.

Ok enough of my rants!! I'll be drinking a few beers over the weekend awaiting all the angry responses. If any come I know it's an old thread.
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