The European Health Insurance Card is not required in the Nordic countries from people who are covered by the Finnish social security system. Therefore, showing your identity card is usually sufficient for receiving treatment in Sweden. An identity card can be a passport, an identity card issued by the police or a driver’s licence.
When receiving necessary healthcare from the public healthcare system in Sweden, you will only be liable for the patient fee (patientavgift). Treatment is available for the price of the patient fee at health centres, public hospitals and those private health service providers (doctors, hospitals, clinics) that have made an agreement with Sweden’s county council.
If you seek treatment at an entirely private clinic (that does not have a care agreement), you will need to pay full price and will not receive reimbursement in Sweden.
You can find information concerning public healthcare services in your area from the website of the trusteeship of the Swedish municipalities and county council (Sveriges kommuner och landsting). The site contains a link to the county council’s own pages that provide more information on regional services.
The national healthcare information service is available 24 hours a day and it can be reached by dialling 1177 (from Sweden). You can also call this number to ask for the contact information of on-duty doctors during evenings and weekends, for example.
Contact a general practitioner (allmänläkare) at a health centre (vårdcentral) or clinic (läkarmottagning). Show your identity card, which will reduce the general practitioner’s fee to SEK 100–300. The amount varies by county. Health centres also have nurses (distriktsköterska) who can treat wounds or prescribe medicine when the situation is not serious. A visit to a nurse or physiotherapist costs between SEK 50 and 220.
Health centres are open on weekdays and reservations can be made by phone. Most health centres also have a walk-in reception during specific times.
You can make an appointment with a specialist directly, but seeing a general practitioner first is advisable (and cheaper), since they can write a referral to a specialist if necessary. The patient fee for a specialist is SEK 150–350. In some regions additional fee may be charged for example for X-ray examinations.
The maximum amount of patient fees is SEK 1,100 over a period of 12 months. This limit is known as high cost protection (högkostnadsskydd) and it is the same in all counties. After paying the patient fee, you will receive a pass (högkostnadskort) where your payments are registered. Once the limit of SEK 1,100 is exceeded, treatment will be entirely free of charge. The high cost protection does not apply to daily in-patient fees at a hospital, and it is not commonly used in dental care.
In most counties, medical care is free for children and young people until the end of the year when they turn 19 years old.
When you require immediate dental care, you can go to a public dental care clinic (folktandvårdsklinik) or to a private dentist who has an agreement with Försäkringskassan (most dentists do).
When you show your identity card at the clinic, the costs will be reimbursed as follows:
- Treatment is almost completely free for children and young people until the end of the year when they turn 19 years old.
- For 20–29-year-olds, and for those over the age of 75, the dental care subsidy is SEK 300 per year.
- For 30–74-year-olds the subsidy is SEK 150 per year.
Limits for high costs
- The patient is liable for costs below SEK 3,000.
- Cost totals between SEK 3,000 and SEK 15,000 will be reimbursed by 50 %.
- Cost totals exceeding SEK 15,000 will be reimbursed by 85 %.
The dentist can set their prices freely, but the reimbursement is calculated on the basis of reference prices. The reference price is a fixed price set for each treatment procedure and its amount is determined by the Swedish government. Therefore, if you go to a dentist that charges above the reference prices, you will be liable for the portion that exceeds the reference price. The dentist must have a list of the reference prices and the prices charged by the dentist, and you should determine them before the treatment is started.
In Sweden, electronic prescriptions are most often used in place of paper prescriptions. Show your identity card when collecting your prescribed medicines at a pharmacy (apoteket). You will receive a pharmacy card (apotekskort) that is valid for 12 months and that will be used to register your medicine purchases. This may entitle you to partial reimbursement for your medicines.
- You are liable for costs up to SEK 1,100.
- For cost totals between SEK 1,100 and SEK 2,100, you will be liable for 50 %.
- For cost totals between SEK 2,100 and SEK 3,900, you will be liable for 25 %.
- For cost totals between SEK 3,900 and SEK 5,400, you will be liable for 10 %.
- For cost totals exceeding SEK 5,400, you will be liable for 0 %.
The maximum payable amount per year is SEK 2,200. Reimbursements for medicine expenses are based on reference prices.
A doctor’s referral is usually required for hospital treatment. In an emergency, you can go straight to the first aid unit (akutmottagnig) of a public hospital. You can also go to a private hospital if it has an agreement with the county council. Present your identity card at the reception.
The maximum in-patient fee at a ward is SEK 100 per day. In most regions, treatment is free for children and young people until the end of the year when they turn 19 years old. Outpatient care at a hospital clinic is subject to a similar patient fee as a doctor visit. In the hospital first-aid unit the patient fee is SEK 220–380.
The costs for travelling to a hospital are reimbursed if specific prerequisites are met, and the conditions vary between counties. You can ask the hospital about the travel allowance. Emergency medical transport by ambulance or helicopter is most commonly free of charge, but a user fee will be charged in some counties.
Returning to Finland (specific to the Nordic countries)
If your illness requires you to use a more expensive means of travel than normal when returning to Finland (such as a type of special transport), you are entitled to receive reimbursement from Sweden. The reimbursement will cover the share of your travel costs that was caused by the more expensive means of travel. In other words, you will pay the same price for the return trip as you would have done when using your normal means of travel (when fully healthy). The prerequisite for the reimbursement is that you receive a doctor’s certificate from Sweden before your return trip, and that it indicates why the more expensive means of travel is required.
If you are required to pay full price
If you are required to pay full price for public healthcare treatment that should have been covered by the European Health Insurance Card, you can apply for reimbursement retrospectively. You can apply for reimbursement either from the health insurance institution of the destination country or from Kela on form SV 128.
In Sweden, you can look for a healthcare service provider in the 1177 Vårdguiden online service. When looking for doctor services, type “vårdcentral” in the search field. When looking for dentists, type in “tandvård”. You can look for hospitals by typing in “sjukhus”, but in this case, the service will mostly offer contact information for emergency medicine clinics at hospitals. You can also define the county for your search.
Practices and costs related to treatment
A referral is not usually required in order to see a specialist, but acquiring one is recommended. For more information, please see the section “Doctor”.
Municipalities and counties set the prices for treatment provided in their area. Information concerning how patient fees are defined can be found in the Vårdguiden online service (patientavgifter). The regionally defined patient fees do not usually apply to private care (aesthetic treatment by a plastic surgeon, for example). When seeking treatment for reasons that are not medical, please contact the body providing the treatment for additional information on costs.
Quality and safety of treatment
If you are not satisfied with the quality of treatment that you receive in Sweden, please primarily contact the healthcare professional who provided the treatment or the management of the clinic or hospital.
More information concerning the complaint procedure is available on the website of the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
In order to ensure that a specific doctor has permission to practise his/her profession, you can contact the Board by email at hosp(at)socialstyrelsen.se. The message must indicate, at a minimum, the first and last name of the doctor.
Benchmarking information concerning the quality of treatment and patient safety is published regularly in Sweden (Öppna jämförelser - information om vårdkvaliteten och patientsäkerheten).
The Läkemedelsverket website contains information regarding pharmacy licences.