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When it comes to health care, some countries, like the United States, still rely on private sector solutions. However, other nations, like Australia, have embraced socialized medicine schemes that provide coverage to all citizens, and patients can supplement care with private insurance.

Like Australia, Sweden’s health care plan incorporates public and private options. The Swedish government absorbs about 97 percent of medical costs, and patients pay small examination and surgery fees. In both countries, specialized services, like dentistry and optometry, straddle the public and private sectors.

How Does Sweden’s Health Care System Work?

The Swedish government considers health care a human right, and citizens, regardless of income, are entitled to coverage. Taxes primarily fund the program, and it operates on three levels: federal, regional, and local.

Cabinet ministers craft laws and policies on the federal level. Vårdgaranti, the national care law, outlines wait times and other logistical parameters. Regionally, city councils, elected quadrennially, play a significant role in health administration, price regulation, and private provider logistics. Health care authorities on the local level manage resources like social welfare services, the water supply, and hands-on medical care assistance for the infirmed.

In Sweden, when a doctor declares a patient sick, the patient's employer pays a portion of their wages until recovery. If the illness lasts longer than 14 days, then the government assumes responsibility.

The Crossroad of Public and Private Health Care in Sweden

City councils set the parameters for public and private health providers, which accounts for Sweden’s regional health administration disparities. Though council jurisdictions must adhere to federal care standards, plan details are devised by local authorities.

According to recent studies, the government reimburses private health care providers in Sweden for about 20 percent of hospital care stays and approximately 30 percent of primary care services. However, another study concluded that nearly 70 percent of Swedes are against private companies profiting off the public system. The discrepancy between public sentiment and practice has spawned legislative oversight and restructuring in certain jurisdictions. Moreover, patients cannot be reimbursed for using private service providers that don’t have agreements with city councils.

Dental Care in Sweden and Australia

Dental care in Sweden and Australia are handled similarly. Both countries use a mix of public and private options. In Sweden, dental health is free up to age 19 while the Australian government only covers dental care to the age of 17. After passing that age, patients are recommended to purchase dental insurance and use private providers like Pure Dentistry in Brisbane.

Regardless of your health care coverage, remember that dental health impacts overall health. Do your body a favour and make an appointment to see your dentist soon.