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This article makes a comparative analysis of health care policies and attempts to draw a classification in line with the literature’s welfare state typologies. The notion of a "health care state" is based on the distinction between the three areas of health care governance typical of the sector in the west: consumption, provision and technology. Today welfare states are addressing the challenges of all three areas according to the historical legacy of the "family" they belong to. More specifically, the "command and control" state (Scandinavia and the United Kingdom) has reacted by rationing out health care services through public doctors. The American "supply state" has failed to check the failure of the Clinton reforms due to cost inflation and shrinking coverage of the population. The "corporatist" health care state (represented by "Bismarckian" states such as Germany) has crushed the dominance of social partners through a tighter regulation of and stronger competition between health insurance funds. The author, finally, classifies the Mediterranean countries and Eire into a fourth family of their own: the "patronage" health care state.