Commentary: Values and Health Policy: The Case of Singapore
From: Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law
Volume 26, Number 4, August 2001
pp. 739-745 |
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 26.4 (2001) 739-745 Commentary
Health care systems do not develop in isolation. They are products of the societies in which they are embedded and of the values held to be important in those societies. There could be no better illustration of this truth than the comparison between Sweden and the United States. The commitment in Sweden to equity and to the belief in that country in the benefits of action by the state has resulted in the development of a universal, tax-funded health service in which the emphasis is on ensuring access to health care for all. In contrast, the commitment in the United States to individual freedom and the aversion to government intervention has led to the development of a market-based health care system in which choice is highly valued and inequities in access tolerated. The case of Singapore described by Michael Barr is a further illustration of the influence of social embeddedness and values in health care. A former British colony that gained independence in 1965, Singapore has attracted attention mainly because of the success of its economy. Rapid economic growth since independence has created a city-state of 3 million people in which per capita incomes are among the highest in the world. Singapore is a paradigm case of the tiger economies and has come through the economic downturn in Southeast Asia relatively unscathed. In recent times, the country's health care system has also attracted interest because of its ability to deliver good health outcomes at what appears to be a remarkably low cost (only 3 percent of GDP, according to government figures). Singapore's economic success is of course a major factor contributing to the health outcomes...
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