Limited Consequences of a Transition From Activity-Based Financing to Budgeting: Four Reasons Why According to Swedish Hospital Managers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Activity-based financing (ABF) and global budgeting are two common reimbursement models in hospital care that embody different incentives for cost containment and quality. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe perceptions from the provider perspective about how and why replacing variable ABF by global budgets affects daily operations and provided services. The study setting is a large Swedish county council that went from traditional budgeting to an ABF system and then back again in the period 2005-2012. Based on semistructured interviews with midlevel managers and analysis of administrative data, we conclude that the transition back from ABF to budgeting has had limited consequences and suggest 4 reasons why: (1) Midlevel managers dampen effects of changes in the external control; (2) the actual design of the different reimbursement models differed from the textbook design; (3) the purchasing body's use of other management controls did not change; (4) incentives bypassing the purchasing body's controls dampened the consequences. The study highlights the challenges associated with improvement strategies that rely exclusively on budget system changes within traditional tax-funded and politically managed health care systems.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics and Business
  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


  • activity-based financing, budgets, health care managers, health care delivery, qualitative research, Sweden
Original languageEnglish
JournalInquiry: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision and Financing
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Apr 15
Publication categoryResearch