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The Norwegian Health Care System


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  • Paul van den Noord
  • Terje Hagen
  • Tor Iversen


This paper examines the Norwegian health care system from an economic perspective. While acknowledging the excellent quality of services delivered by the Norwegian health care system, it identifies a number of problem areas, in particular: i) the long waiting lists for hospital admission and lack of medical staff; ii) the marked regional variation in per capita health care expenditure (which cannot be fully explained by demographic factors); and iii) the risks to cost control associated with soft budget constraints and collective wage bargaining of doctors. A series of recent reforms, most importantly a move from block grant to activity-based funding of hospitals, should provide incentives for raising efficiency in health care provision but also risk leading to “treatment inflation” ... Cet article examine le système norvégien de soins de santé d’un point de vue économique. La qualité excellente des services fournis par le système norvégien de soins de santé est reconnue, néanmoins l’article identifie un certain nombre de secteurs à problème, en particulier : i) les longues listes d’attente pour l’admission en hôpital et le manque de personnel médical ; ii) la forte disparité régionale dans les dépenses de soins de santé par habitant (qu’on ne peut pas expliquer totalement par des facteurs démographiques) ; iii) les risques liés à la maîtrise des coûts associés à des contraintes budgétaires faibles et les négociations salariales collectives des médecins. Plusieurs réformes récentes, la plus importante étant le remplacement des dotations globales par un système de financement en fonction de l’activité, devraient fournir des incitations pour accroître l’efficience des services fournis mais risquent aussi de conduire à une “inflation des traitements” ...

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 198.

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Date of creation: 26 May 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:198-en

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Cited by:
  1. Maria Laura Di Tommaso & S. Strøm & E. M. Sæther, 2007. "Nurses Wanted. Is the job too harsh or is the wage too low?," CHILD Working Papers wp11_07, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  2. Guillem López & Jaume Puig, 1999. "Review of the literature on reference pricing," Working Papers, Research Center on Health and Economics 362, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Jon H. Fiva & Torbjørn Hægeland & Marte Rønning, 2009. "Health Status After Cancer. Does It Matter Which Hospital You Belong To?," Discussion Papers 590, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  4. Sæther, Erik Magnus, 2009. "Will increased wages increase nurses' working hours in the health care sector?," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2004:7, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
  5. Aakvik, Arild & Holmås, Tor Helge, 2005. "Access to Primary Health Care and Health Outcomes: The Relationships between GP Characteristics and Mortality Rates," Working Papers in Economics 16/05, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  6. Biørn, Erik & Hagen, Terje P. & Iversen, Tor & Magnussen, Jon, 2009. "The effect of activity-based financing on hospital efficiency: A panel data analysis of DEA efficiency scores 1992-2000," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2002:8, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
  7. Guillem López & Jaume Puig, 1999. "Review of the literature on reference pricing," Economics Working Papers 362, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  8. Tor Helge Holmås, 2002. "Keeping nurses at work: a duration analysis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 493-503.
  9. Aakvik, Arild & Holmås, Tor Helge, 2004. "The Relationship Between Economic Conditions, Access to Health Care, and Health Outcomes," Working Papers in Economics 06/04, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  10. Iversen, Tor & Kopperud, Gry Stine, 2009. "The impact of accessibility on the use of specialist health care in Norway," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2002:9, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
  11. Sæther, Erik Magnus, 2009. "Compensating differentials for nurses," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2004:10, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
  12. Sæther, Erik Magnus, 2009. "Wage Policies for Health Personnel - Essays on the Wage Impact on Hours of Work and Practice Choice," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2005:1, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.


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