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Sweden has a population of 8,873,000, making it larger than New Jersey (8,414,350) and smaller than Michigan (9,938,444). The country has an infant mortality rate of 3.49 per 1,000 live births and a life expectancy at birth of 76.95 years for men and 82.37 years for women. This is better by 3 points and by 2-1/2 years for each sex, or distinctly superior to the US records.
Sweden's per capita GDP is normal for a European country at $20,700, as is the 8 to 9% of GDP it has spent on health care during the 1990s. Using the higher figure of 9% gives a dollar figure of $1863. The fact that this is 43%, or way less than half of the US cost, has lost its power to surprise.
Sweden has had its current universal health care system since 1962. Tuition for medical and nursing education is free, and students generally take loans for living expenses of around $9,000-US per year.
The Swedish health care system is financed by both incomes and patient fees. County councils own and operate hospitals, employ physicians and run the majority of general practices and outpatient facilities. Other physicians work in private practice and are paid by the counties on a fee-for-service basis.
Co-pays, which were mandated in 1970, are capped, with limits on how much a person is required to contribute annually. For example, patients over age 16 pay $9 per day for hospitalization. The maximum individual expense for hospital and physician services is approximately $108 per year. The maximum individual expense for prescription drugs is $156 per year. Once these sums are met, care is covered at 100%.