[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 22, 1994

Finland's Health Care System: Universal Access to Health Care in a Capitalistic Democracy

JAMA. 1994;271(24):1957-1962. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510480081040

In Europe, several countries with national health services have started experimenting with planned markets.1 Finland has a national health care system funded through general taxation, with good access to care and a large emphasis on primary care and preventive services. In 1993, Finnish health care financing was reorganized with the purpose of increasing efficiency and performance.

Background  Since her independence in 1917, Finland has been a republic, combining a parliamentary system with a strong presidency. It is a country of 5 million inhabitants but is sparsely populated. The Finnish population is culturally and racially homogeneous. In contrast to Sweden and Denmark, there is very little immigration into Finland. Finland's economy was formerly dominated by agriculture; however, in the past few decades it has been primarily transformed into services (60% of the population) and industry (30% of the population).2 Finland governs by a capitalistic democracy, but its people have