Managed care: a view from Europe

Annu Rev Public Health. 2001;22:273-91. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.22.1.273.


This article summarizes recent developments in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the new Baltic states that reflect the influence of US managed care concepts and practices. We emphasize (a) developments in restructuring traditional health insurance mechanisms by shifting premium and out-of-pocket burdens to consumers so as to constrain demand and costs and (b) reliance on prospective hospital budgets and case management by primary physicians. Social insurance mechanisms and universal coverage remain national tasks as well as basic components of the social structure of most European countries. Full open-market competition between traditional sick funds and private insurance companies and the introduction of for-profit MCOs beholden to their shareholders appears unlikely on other than an experimental basis. Increased competition between providers may well result from the new right of insurers and payers to contract with medical care providers of their choice. It remains to be shown how far these experiments, which differ substantially between the countries examined, will succeed in their objectives and become permanent features of their national systems.

MeSH terms

  • Cost Control
  • Europe
  • Health Care Reform
  • Humans
  • Managed Care Programs / organization & administration
  • Managed Care Programs / trends*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • State Medicine / organization & administration