Edited by Henriette Sinding Aasen, Siri Gloppen, Anne-Mette Magnussen and Even Nilssen
Prioritization of health care services is a major challenge in modern welfare states: which services should the national health services offer, how should they be funded and how should they prioritize various patient groups when capacity is limited? These are among the pressing issues. There is a general tendency toward juridification in the health care sector (Bernt 1997; Magnussen and Aasen 2013; Magnussen and Banasiak 2013), but the way in which access to health care services is regulated varies between countries. In Europe, various types of regulations exist, with different implications and consequences with regard to prioritization and individual access to health care services. In England, access to health care is regulated through the National Health Service (NHS) Constitution, granting patients the right to national health services within maximum waiting times. In Denmark, access to health care is regulated by the Danish Health Care Act, which is characterized by general rules concerning distribution of health care, and with significant room for professional judgment. The Norwegian regulations represent yet another kind of legislation, in that the prioritization principles are laid down and thereby more directly infringe on professional judgment. In this chapter, we consider the Norwegian case for a discussion of individual rights as a way of regulating access to health care services. Norway is a developed welfare state with a publicly funded and tax-based universal health care system. Treatment in specialist health care services is free of charge for residential patients.
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