Learn about the Healthcare System & Insurance Options for Expats in Finland
Finland is a beautiful country with a fantastic melting pot of cultures of countries lying to its east and west. The country also goes by the name “Land of a thousand lakes” because it has over 180,000 lakes! That being said, Finnish people have a unique way to cure themselves of an ailment. Most of the locals treat themselves by going to a sauna bath. Similarly, almost all Finnish people will also recommend this treatment to you. It could probably be one of the reasons why the people of Finland have a very high life expectancy. Here’s what you need to know about the Finland healthcare system and insurance options for expats.
A lot of expats have, over the years, made Finland their new home. These expats trust the country’s healthcare system to keep them healthy. However, there are several public hospitals in the country, and most of them have a high volume of patients. As many as 80% of people have to wait for up to 2 weeks to meet a general practitioner. Private hospitals, on the other hand, have barely any waiting queues, but their services are much costlier than those offered in public hospitals. Expats can consider buying international health insurance that can cover all overhead costs. The CDC has more information about vaccinations before traveling to Finland.
Overview of Healthcare
Finland’s healthcare system is primarily funded by taxes collected from the people living and working in the country through the National Health Insurance System. The system covers medical costs, dental treatment costs, and even the cost of traveling to obtain medical care. The entire healthcare system has three levels: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.
The primary healthcare system is more simplified than the other two, comprising preventive treatment, doctor consultation, etc. Secondary and tertiary systems include advanced levels of treatment and are usually not sought as often as the primary system. You can find most of the country’s top hospitals in the major cities. People who live in other regions have to visit these cities to obtain treatment.
How the Finland Healthcare System Works for Expats?
Expats living or working in Finland for over four months must register for the National Health Insurance (NHI). With NHI, you get a Kela card, which they can present in pharmacies and clinics to get instant reimbursement for the costs incurred. EU citizens who don’t stay in Finland for more than four months are not eligible for it. Instead, they can access emergency medical care through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Those who are not the citizens of the EU cannot qualify for EHIC either. Therefore, expats should get coverage through private international health insurance.
Public Healthcare in Finland
Finland’s public healthcare system is a 3-tier system that categorizes all kinds of ailments according to their criticality. Most of the ailments fall under the primary health level, while only a few, more critical cases need to be treated under secondary and tertiary levels. Furthermore, individual municipalities all across Finland are directly responsible for managing public healthcare services in Finland through local healthcare centers. Every principal municipality has a dedicated health center.
Private Healthcare in Finland
Public hospitals are mostly overcrowded, which means people are waiting long hours to get their treatment, even from a general practitioner (GP). Those who don’t wish to wait for that long can turn towards the more effective private healthcare system of Finland. Of course, the charges are significantly higher, but the turnaround time is short. Those who hold Kela cards qualify for reimbursement to an extent after obtaining private healthcare. They may need to pay the entire fee upfront but can claim a refund through the Kela website at a later stage.
Emergency Services in Finland
Expats can dial 112 for emergency medical services in Finland.
If necessary, the concerned hospital will send an ambulance on priority to pick up the patient. National Health Insurance will take care of the ambulance charges thus incurred.
Pharmacies in Finland
Unlike many countries, in Finland, you cannot buy medicines from any store. Only pharmacies are authorized to sell medication across the country. Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea) is the authority that issues permits to these pharmacies, and also regularly monitors their operations in Finland.
Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats Living in Finland
Finland’s top-quality healthcare system makes everyone’s visit to the country worth it. To ensure that your stay in Finland is convenient, consider getting an international health insurance policy that covers you and your family. You can choose one from renowned global insurance firms like Cigna Global and Allianz International. Make sure you read all the benefits included in these plans before choosing the right one for yourself.