Social security agreement
The social security agreement between Finland and the United States of America covers national pensions and survivors´ pensions. With respect to employees and other persons on a temporary assignment in country, the agreement also covers health insurance, parental insurance and child benefit. The agreement does include provisions on providing medical care when a Finnish citizen is staying in the United States on a temporary basis.
Healthcare and medical care
The United States does not have a public health service available to all citizens. Healthcare is regulated in part by the federal government and in part by the states. Health services provided by the states and cities vary, and there can also be differences in the quality of the services. The majority of the population is covered by some form of health insurance, but some people are entirely without coverage. By law, hospitals are obliged to treat all patients in emergencies, but once the patient’s condition is no longer life threatening, the obligation to treat ceases. In the United States, healthcare is free only for American pensioners and recipients of social security.
When travelling to the United States, it is highly recommended that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover illness or accidents. Healthcare charges are extremely high. A doctor´s appointment or patient transport alone in an emergency can cost several thousand dollars. In more serious cases, the costs could amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Despite having taken out travel insurance, you must often be prepared to pay for an appointment with a doctor yourself first, as payment commitments by foreign insurance companies are not always accepted. In some cases, it is possible to arrange with the hospital and insurance company for the invoice to be paid directly through the insurance company.
If you are health insured in Finland, and have received treatment in some other country than an EU or EEA country or Switzerland on account of a sudden illness, worsening of a chronic condition, pregnancy or childbirth, you can apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively. You are entitled for the same reimbursement that you would have received if you had been treated in the private healthcare system in Finland. Please note that the reimbursement usually covers only a small part of the costs of the treatment. Thus, taking out a comprehensive travel insurance is recommended.