Introduction One of the major characteristics distinguishing the Nordic welfare state model from other types of welfare state models is the way in which the Nordic countries have arranged their health and social care services. The Nordic welfare state is called a ‘public service state’, because most health and social care services are funded from tax revenue and are provided by public-either local or regionalauthorities. The principle of ‘universalism’ is extended to include, in addition to cash benefits, also access to health and social care services. In particular, the social care services are available for and used by a significantly larger proportion of the population than in the other European welfare states (Anttonen and Sipilä 1996; Rostgaard 1996). High professional standards for the universal services have also been an important policy goal in the Nordic countries. The widening of the principle of high professional standards from health care and education to social care services is a characteristic that is not as evident in other welfare states.