State intervention in medical care: Types, trends and variables

Julio Frenk, Avedis Donabedian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This article attempts to develop some of the basic elements for a theory of state intervention in medical care. First, a typology of state intervention is proposed based on two dimensions: the form of state control over the production of medical services and the basis for eligibility of the population. The resulting twelve types provide a means of describing national patterns of state intervention at a given point in time. Next, in order to analyse the changing patterns of state intervention in medical care over time, changes in state control and population coverage are used to construct three hypothetical 'paths' of state intervention, which may serve to depict broad historical trends in major groups of countries. In the final section, several variables are analysed according to their expected effect on the patterns of convergence and divergence in the form and degree of state intervention between countries. This cross-national comparative perspective is offered as a strategy for building a theory capable of explaining state intervention, a process that, to a large extent, informs the medical experience of today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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