The national health insurance system, financed by the state and employer contributions, was established in January 1955 and covers all Swedish citizens and alien residents. Total expenditure for health care insurance was 7.9% of the gross domestic product as of 1999. Principal health care reform issues in the 1990s include universal and equal access to services and equitable funding of health care. For rural medical attention, doctors are supplemented by district nurses. Only about 5% of all physicians are in full-time private practice. The corresponding figure for private dentists, however, is more than 50%. Swedish hospitals, well known for their high standards, had 3.7 beds per 1,000 people as of 1999, when there were an estimated 3.1 physicians per 1,000 people.
Cardiovascular disease accounted for about half of all deaths in 1998, when cancer was the next leading cause of death. In 1993, there were 28,367 deaths due to cardiovascular disease. In Sweden, the likelihood of dying after age 65 of heart disease was 388 for males and 357 for females per 1,000 people in the mid-1990s. Many health problems are related to environment and lifestyle (including tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, and overeating). The smoking rates were similar between men (22%) and women (24%) over the age of 15 in 1994. Periodic campaigns are conducted to reduce tuberculosis (with a nationwide X-ray survey), cancer, rheumatism, and venereal diseases.
In 1997, the immunization rates for children under age one were as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 99% and measles, 96%. There is a well-developed prenatal service. Children receive free dental care until the age of 20.
Sweden's population is the world's oldest; nearly one in five people is 64 years of age or older. In 2000, average life expectancy in Sweden was 80 years. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 9.8 and 10.6 per 1,000 people. Infant mortality has been sharply reduced, from 60 per 1,000 live births in 1920 to 3 per 1,000 in 2000, one of the lowest rates in the world.
As of 1999, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 3,000 and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at fewer than 100. HIV prevalence was 0.08 per 100 adults.