The figures are clear: It’s not Scandinavia, but Germany, France, Switzerland and the Benelux countries that have the smallest disparities in the health of the citizens. The figures are reported based on citizens’ self-perceived health experiences, and the comparisons are made within each country
It is Terje Andreas Eikemo at SINTEF Health Research has completed a doctoral degree on this issue. Based on data from the European Social Survey, Eikemo has carried out the largest quantitative, comparative health investigation ever implemented.State, family or market
“In Scandinavia, we contribute through relatively high taxes and fees and know that in return the State will take care of us if we get into difficulties,” says Eikemo. “In Southern Europe, the family constitutes the security net; in Great Britain the market is important with private health insurance options while in Central Europe benefits are based on previous earnings.”Explanations
Eikemo also points to recent immigration as an explanation for large health differences. These are people with few resources, who do not utilise health services to a major degree.
“Health is a good gauge of whether a welfare state is functioning,” says Eikemo. “England has a special focus on health for the lowest echelons of society. In Norway, we have an equality ideal where we are preoccupied with the outcome of good health care being equal for everyone. Since the principle of equality appeals most to Norwegian politicians, these figures should be of interest,” says the SINTEF research scientist, who has published extracts of his dissertation in several international journals.
Aase Dragland | alfa
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