Finland attracts foreigners with its exceptional quality of life, beautiful scenery, and a strong economy. Most ex-pats live in and around the capital, Helsinki. The city also offers excellent services, attractions, and amenities. While not a budget-friendly destination, the cost of living in Helsinki is lower than in New York or London. However, as with all travel destinations, there is a lot to do once you arrive. Knowing in advance how health insurance works in Finland can be one less task when moving. Health Insurance in Finland
Overview of the Finnish Healthcare System
Finns have one of the highest standards of living in the world. And by many standards, Finnish healthcare is exemplary. However, the World Health Organization ranks Finland’s healthcare system 31st in the world. This is a great ranking, but there is room for improvement. For example, 31st place is well below the country’s global rankings for education and parenting.
Finland’s public health system is called the National Health Insurance System. It is very comprehensive and covers medical expenses, dental expenses, and even travel expenses to seek medical care. The system is divided into three levels of care: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary level care focuses on screening and regular doctor visits at community health centers or terveysasemats. Secondary and tertiary levels focus on highly specialized medical care through district hospitals or similar rats.
Locals say Finnish healthcare is underfunded. For example, less than 10% of his country’s GDP goes to healthcare. Also, some clinics are understaffed. In some cases, it can take a patient two weeks or more before he has an appointment with her GP.
Pros and Cons of Using the Local Health Insurance System
Finland’s public health system has excellent hospitals, clinics, and first-class doctors. Patients can expect comprehensive and attentive care in modern, comfortable facilities. However, latency is an issue. For example, it can take weeks to get a regular appointment. Appointments with specialists take longer. The situation is even worse for patients in rural areas.
Private clinics and hospitals, on the other hand, have significantly reduced wait times. The staff is also multilingual, making patient facilities more comfortable and private.
How ex-pats get health insurance
Expats from other Nordic countries are entitled to the same medical care as Finns. An ID card is the only thing a Nordic citizen needs to prove their eligibility. In addition, EU citizens are entitled to medical services at the same rates as Finns. However, to do this, you must have a European health insurance card before you travel. EHIC is free and available in all member states.
All permanent residents of Finland are entitled to public health insurance. The Finnish healthcare system is based on municipal residence, so to be eligible you must have Koticunta status or “the right to reside in a municipality”. The Finnish Social Insurance Association, known as KELA, issues individual health insurance cards. This card allows foreigners to access the healthcare system. Also, present your KELA card at the pharmacy to get discounts on prescription drug costs.
What you need to know about the process
All foreigners in Finland must register for public health insurance if they have been working in Finland for more than four months. All registrants receive a legal health insurance card, the so-called KELA card. This card must be used for all medical appointments. Traditional employers are automatically deducted from their paychecks to contribute to the health care system.
Finnish public healthcare is not free
Patients pay a small fee and account for about 10% of the system funding. The remaining costs are borne by the general tax. However, for affordability reasons, the fees are limited both in terms of how much a patient pays for each visit and how often they can be billed during the year.
Finnish Global Health Insurance Plan Benefits
If you don’t want to use the public system, you can use your KELA card to book a private clinic. However, the patient must prepay medical expenses and then apply for reimbursement. It is important for patients to know that only a portion of the fees will be refunded. Guidelines have been set to determine how much of a refund is possible. It is therefore worth taking out private global health insurance for foreigners in Finland to offset the usually very high arrears of expenses.
Another advantage of global health insurance is the ability to visit neighboring countries for medical care. Sometimes it is difficult to find the specialist you need and a doctor in a neighboring country is more attractive.
How regular doctor visits work
Patients in Finland should call a public health center known as Terveysasema to make an appointment with a doctor or nurse. Depending on the nature of the problem, the patient may see a nurse first. If the nurse determines that the problem is serious, the next step is to see a doctor. Punctuality is very important in Finnish culture. A no-show fee will be charged if you do not keep your appointment or are late.
Finns have a reputation for being reserved, quiet, and even moody in their conversations. While there is plenty of evidence to the contrary (watch a group of college students chatting happily!), small talk and casual conversation do not play a significant role in Finnish doctor-patient relationships. . Thus, this slight cultural difference can be a major adjustment for North American ex-pats accustomed to heartfelt conversations and for physicians who are meticulous about conveying bad news gently.
Finding a General Practitioner
New residents of Finland are automatically registered as patients at the local health center. It is not possible to book an appointment with a doctor at another health center. However, if you want to change your health center, you can. You must complete an application at your original health center. After that, requests are usually processed within a month.
Health centers are managed by local councils. Therefore, there is no centralized organization or directory of the country