This article is a comparative study of three Scandinavian countries--Norway, Denmark, and Sweden--all of which have provided the individual patient with extensive rights to choose the hospital where he/she wishes to receive treatment. In the paper, we present an analysis of the utilization of the opportunity to choose between hospitals in these three countries. The analysis addresses two questions: (i) How many patients are exercising the right to choose between hospitals in these countries and who is making use of this opportunity? (ii) How can we explain the observed utilization pattern? The results of the study reveal clear similarities between the three countries and suggest that few patients have actually chosen their hospital. However, a gradual increase can be observed over the years. Few formal, legislative, or economic barriers exist for patients. Instead, limited knowledge amongst patients regarding reforms, combined with insufficient support from GPs and limited information, can explain why few patients choose to receive care outside of their local region.
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