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State and Insurance : The Long-Term Trends in Danish Health Policy from 1672 to 1973

Author(s): Løkke, Anne

Journal: Hygiea Internationalis: an interdisciplinary journal for the history of public health
ISSN 1404-4013

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: health policy | social laws | absolutist policy | biopolicy | population health | health insurance | roots of Danish welfare state

This paper discuss the path dependency of the Danish tax financed, egalitarian health policy. It is argued, that the Danish health policy of today can not be understood separately from its history. The principles of universalism and decommodification have roots that go back to experiences from nearly 200 years of absolutist, patriarchal biopolitics, including poor laws, educated, authorised and publicly-paid midwives, publicly-paid district surgeons et cetera. The route from absolutist biopolitics to modern welfare state went through enormous, voluntary civic engagement by non-profit health insurance societies (sygekasser), formed in the mid-nineteenth century and controlled and subsidised by the state from 1892.

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