Population ageing with an increasing number of people experiencing complex health and social care needs challenges health systems. We explore whether and how health system reforms and policy measures adopted during the past two decades in Finland and Sweden reflect and address the needs of the older people. We discuss health system characteristics that are important to meet the care needs of older people and analyse how health policy agendas have highlighted these aspects in Finland and Sweden. The analysis is based on “most similar cases”. The two countries have rather similar health systems and are facing similar challenges. However, the policy paths to address these challenges are different. The Swedish health system is better resourced, and the affordability of care better ensured, but choice and market-oriented competition reforms do not address the needs of the people with complex health and social care needs, rather it has led to increased fragmentation. In Finland, the level of public funding is lower which may have negative impacts on people who need multiple services. However, in terms of integration and care coordination, Finland seems to follow a path which may pave the way for improved coordination of care for people with multiple care needs. Intensified monitoring and analysis of patterns of health care utilization among older people are warranted in both countries to ensure that care is provided equitably.
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