Swedish Left looks to halt privatised healthcare

Sweden's Left Party has set its sights on stopping the privatisation of Sweden’s largely publicly-funded healthcare system.

Swedish Left looks to halt privatised healthcare

In a campaign unveiled on Wednesday and christened “The World’s Best Medical Care,” the Left Party warns that privatising the nation’s healthcare would create enormous problems, reduce democracy and transparency, and increase the risk of misplaced priorities.

Party leader Lars Ohly claimed the root of the many problems associated with privatisation lie with healthcare providers who increasingly chase profits.

The party therefore seeks to limit profit as a driving force in the Swedish healthcare system.

“More and more of the Swedish healthcare system is owned by private equity firms whose only motivation is profit,” Ohly said at the Left Party conference on Wednesday.

The Left Party ultimately seeks to abolish Sweden’s freedom of choice law (Lagen om valfrihet – LOV), a law in effect since January 2009 that encourages increased competition in public procurement and has paved the way for more private companies to deliver services previously carried out by public agencies.

The Left also wants to tighten laws on tax evasion.

According to the party, the venture capitalists who own private healthcare companies often tamper with the interest costs and interest incomes to avoid paying taxes. Large sums then disappear into tax havens.

The party also warned of an increase in private healthcare insurance, claiming that it threatens to erode the common financing of the healthcare system.

“The Swedish healthcare system so far functions well, but our campaign is meant to prevent a development where more and more healthcare is sold out and we ultimately get a healthcare determined by the size of your wallet,” Ohly said.

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Emergency room visits to cost 50 francs in Switzerland

People who visit the emergency room for non-urgent treatment will now need to pay 50 francs after the Swiss government issued final approval for a rule change.

An ambulance approaches Geneva University Hospital. Emergency room visits will now cost 50 francs in Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
An ambulance approaches Geneva University Hospital. Emergency room visits will now cost 50 francs in Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The proposal was originally developed by Zurich National Council member Thomas Weibel and received approval by the National Council in 2019. 

The Council of States on Wednesday accepted the parliamentary initiative, meaning that people who seek treatment in the emergency room for non-urgent health issues a fee of 50 francs. 

This will be introduced as a co-pay, meaning that the patients would have to pay out of their own pockets (i.e. it will not be covered by insurance). 

READ MORE: Switzerland to introduce 50 franc fee for emergency room visits

MPs argued that this measure may dissuade those who are not seriously ill from going to the emergency room and overloading the system, while also taking medical staff away from patients who need urgent help.

Opponents countered that this may discourage people from visiting hospital who actually need treatment, however the measure passed with a narrow majority. 

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

No concrete indications were given as to what amounts to ’non-urgent’ treatment in the eyes of the law.

This is expected to be laid out by the National Council who are now charged with the responsibility of drafting the rules. 

Exemptions could apply to children and adolescents under the age of 16, patients referred to the emergency room by a doctor, and those whose treatment subsequently requires hospitalisation.