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The Changing Role of the State in the Italian Healthcare System
The present study describes and explains the changing role of the state in the Italian healthcare system since the beginning of the 1970s, with a particular focus on developments following 1978 when the healthcare system was transformed from a social insurance system into a national health service. In order to address these changes in a systematic way, we track healthcare system development along three dimensions: regulation, financing, and service provision. With regard to regulation, we observe a relative retreat of the state due to decentralization processes and internal market mechanisms. Quantitative measures for the financing and service provision dimension also indicate a modest relative retreat of the state. Taking regional data into account, we identify a clear North-South-divide in the public/private mix of financing and service provision. Although the focus of the paper is to describe the changing role of the state in the Italian healthcare system, we also offer preliminary explanations. We seek to identify the role of exogenous shocks such as economic crises versus endogenous stressors specific to the healthcare system itself (i.e. inherent inefficiencies) on healthcare system change. Therefore, the paper aims to provide a tentative, yet dynamic account of healthcare system change that is both descriptive and explanatory.
No. 150/2011
Lorraine Frisina Doetter
Ralf Götze

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