Supplemental home care and topping‐up: A shift from service universalism towards a new and privatised public service model?

Uffe Hjelmar*, Tine Rostgaard

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


How does a public service model based on service universalism react to the introduction of market principles of topping up? In a recent so‐called Free Municipality Scheme (an experimental scheme that allowed for greater operational autonomy locally in an effort to reduce state bureaucracy), a number of Danish municipalities were for the first time ever allowed to compete with for‐profit providers of home care in selling supplemental home care services paid entirely by the user. The take‐home message from this experience is that the introduction of supplemental home care entails challenges and eventually wider implications for the public service model, on an economic, organisational and cultural level. Supplemental services represent a new and potentially powerful combination of market and state logics that eventually redirects away from the universalist welfare state and towards a new and increasingly privatised public service model – a model where the service level is determined by the user's capacity to purchase and pay for services. The introduction of such services therefore implies a change of the potential of the Nordic welfare state to ensure equal access regardless of class and income.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Social Welfare
StatusUdgivet - 1 aug. 2019


  • Universalism, LTC, supplementary services, marketisation

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