In Sweden the government owns, operates, and finances nearly all health care; therefore, intervention by the government is virtually total. Until recently, government intervention in cardiovascular disease was mainly by allocation of resources through budgets to different hospital departments, based on the advice of expert groups. However, this form of intervention has become ineffective over the last few years as economic conditions have deteriorated and health care spending ceased to grow. Instead, interventions aimed at containing costs and improving the efficiency of health care have now been implemented. The important question in government intervention in health care is whether it will be compatible with clinical and therapeutic freedom and with continued progress in medical research. In the future regulations must be developed with a greater knowledge about the interaction between economic and medical factors in health care in order to provide clinical and therapeutic freedom whilst allowing continued progress in medical research.