Legislation

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health issues guidelines concerning the enforcement of legislation within social affairs and healthcare and develops the legislation. The Ministry also provides guidelines and recommendations for healthcare professionals. Municipalities provide detailed instructions concerning the organisation of healthcare services.


The Constitution of Finland guarantees the right to livelihood and care. Care refers to urgent medical care, among other things. The Constitution also contains provisions concerning non-urgent treatment. In order to implement this, the government officials, municipalities and state have been obligated to ensure that everyone has access to social and healthcare services; they also have a general obligation to promote the general health of the population.

The right to sufficient social and healthcare services was recorded among the basic rights granted by the Constitution in 1995 together with other financial, social and educational rights. According to the rationale in the Government Proposal concerning the Act, sufficient services are services that provide everyone with the prerequisites of acting as a sovereign member of society.

The Constitution of Finland 731/1999 (Finlex)

Acts and Decrees concerning healthcare by topic

Healthcare services and the patient’s freedom of choice
Legislation concerning private healthcare
Patient rights
Fees collected for the use of services
Healthcare professionals
Patient documents
Language of treatment
Treatment injuries
Foreign patients’ right to treatment in Finland
Reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad
Medicines
European prescription
Accessibility of buildings
Appeals

Healthcare services and the patient’s freedom of choice

The Health Care Act contains provisions concerning healthcare services and the patient’s freedom of choice. According to the Health Care Act, healthcare activities must be based on scientific evidence and good treatment practices. Activities must be of high quality, safe and appropriately organised.

Health Care Act 1326/2010 (Finlex)

The Primary Health Care Act and the Act on Specialised Medical Care contain provisions regarding the obligation to organise healthcare services. According to the Act on Planning and Government Grants for Social Welfare and Health Care, the municipality must allocated resources for social and healthcare services that form the basis of the central government transfer to local government.

Primary Health Care Act 66/1972 (Finlex)

Act on Specialised Medical Care 1062/1989 (Finlex)

Laki sosiaali- ja terveydenhuollon suunnittelusta ja valtionavustuksesta (Act on Planning and Government Grants for Social Welfare and Health Care, in Finnish) 733/1992 (Finlex)

Several healthcare services are governed by specific Acts

Act on Assisted Fertility Treatments 1237/2006 (Finlex)

At on Supporting the Functional Capacity of the Older Population and on Social and Health Services for Older Persons 980/2012 (Finlex)

Mental Health Act 1116/1990 (Finlex)

Communicable Diseases Act 583/1986 (Finlex)

Occupational Health Care Act 1383/2001 (Finlex)

Legislation concerning private healthcare

The following acts and decrees apply to private healthcare

Laki yksityisestä terveydenhuollosta (Private Health Care Act, in Finnish) 152/1990 (Finlex)

Asetus yksityisestä terveydenhuollosta (Decree on Private Health Care, in Finnish) 744/1990 (Finlex)

Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriön asetus yksityisestä terveydenhuollosta (Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Private Health Care, in Finnish) 7/2006 (Finlex)

Patient rights

Patient rights are governed by several acts, the most important of which is the Act on the Status and Rights of Patients. The act contains provisions concerning, for example, the patient’s right to information, their self-determination and patient documents.

According to the Act on the Status and Rights of Patients, everyone residing in Finland on a permanent basis is entitled to good healthcare and medical care, and related treatment. Good care and treatment consists of, for example, the quality of treatment, patient safety, equality and professionalism and competence of the personnel. Discrimination on the basis of gender, age, origin, language, religion, belief, opinion, state of health, handicap or other reason related to the person is prohibited.

Act on the Status and Rights of Patients 785/1992 (Finlex)

Fees collected for the use of services

The Act states that a fee may be charged from the users of municipal social and health services. The fee may be at most equal to the costs incurred by the treatment. The Act states which social and health services are free for the customer and contains provisions concerning a maximum fee. The Decree determines which charges for social and health services are acceptable and defines the amount of the charges.

Laki sosiaali- ja terveydenhuollon asiakasmaksuista (Act on Client Charges in Social Welfare and Healthcare, in Finnish) 734/1992 (Finlex)

Asetus sosiaali- ja terveydenhuollon asiakasmaksuista (Decree on Client Charges in Social Welfare and Healthcare, in Finnish) 912/1992 (Finlex)

Healthcare professionals

The Health Care Professionals Act aims to ensure the competence of the personnel by using authorisation and registration methods and by supervising the exercise of profession. The professional skill, experience and training of the personnel set the foundation for good care. Healthcare professionals have an obligation to attend supplementary training, since the treatment methods and equipment as well as medical expertise require constant updating.

Health Care Professionals Act 559/1994 (Finlex)

Patient documents

Patient documents are primarily intended to support the good care of the patient. They should contain the information required for the planning, organisation, implementation and follow-up of good care to a necessary extent and in a clear and understandable manner. All treatment decisions and discussions held with the patient and their next of kin concerning the treatment should be recorded in the patient documents. The patient documents are important for the legal protection of both the patient and the professionals providing the care, especially if a complaint concerning the treatment is filed or an investigation is otherwise started.

Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriön asetus potilasasiakirjoista (Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Patient Documents, in Finnish) 298/2009 (Finlex)

Legislation concerning the Kanta services

Language of treatment

Treatment must be provided in the country’s official languages, which are Finnish and Swedish in Finland. Moreover, the Sami people and people arriving from other Nordic countries are entitled to receive treatment in their own language (under certain conditions).

Language Act 423/2003 (Finlex)

Asetus Suomen, Islannin, Norjan, Ruotsin ja Tanskan välillä Pohjoismaiden kansalaisten oikeudesta käyttää omaa kieltään muussa pohjoismaassa tehdyn sopimuksen voimaansaattamisesta (Decree on the enactment of the agreement on the right of the citizens of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark to use their own language in other Nordic countries, in Finnish) (11/1987) (Finlex)

Treatment injuries

You can claim compensation for treatment injuries related to care provided in Finland from the Patient Insurance Centre. All unfavourable consequences from healthcare and medical care are not covered; only personal injuries that meet the criteria set out in the Treatment Injury Act are compensated for.

For treatment injuries related to treatment provided abroad, you can claim compensation from the local authorities on the basis of local legislation.

Potilasvahinkolaki (Patient Injuries Act, in Finnish) 585/1986 (Finlex)

Foreign patients’ right to treatment in Finland

National legislation and EU legislation as well as international conventions on social security give people arriving from abroad the right to use healthcare services in Finland. Legislation contains specific provisions concerning the scope of the right to treatment under different circumstances and the invoicing and reimbursement of the costs of treatment.

Act on Cross-Border Health Care 1201/2013 (Finlex)

Laki sosiaaliturvajärjestelmien yhteensovittamista koskevan Euroopan unionin lainsäädännön soveltamisesta (Act on the application of European Union legislation concerning the coordination of social security systems, in Finnish) 352/2010 (Finlex)

Laki vastavuoroisesta sairaan- ja terveydenhoidosta rajaseudulla (Act on mutual healthcare and medical care in the border regions, in Finnish) 307/1961 (Finlex)

Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the coordination of social security systems (EUR-Lex)

Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems (EUR-Lex)

Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare (EUR-Lex)

Nordic Convention on Social Security (in Finnish) 136/2004 (Finlex)

Sopimus Suomen ja Australian välillä sairaanhoidon antamisesta tilapäisen oleskelun aikana (Agreement between Finland and Australia on the provision of medical care during temporary residence, in Finnish) 61/1993 (Finlex)

Sopimus sosiaaliturvasta Suomen ja Israelin välillä (Agreement on social security between Finland and Israel, in Finnish) 90/1999 (Finlex)

Suomen ja Quebecin sosiaaliturvasopimusjärjestely (Social security agreement between Finland and Quebec, in Finnish) 6/1988 (Finlex)

Reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad

A person who is covered by health insurance in Finland and a person whose medical care costs Finland is responsible for on the basis of EU legislation is entitled to receive reimbursement from Kela for medical care costs incurred abroad.

Act on Cross-Border Health Care 1201/2013 (Finlex)

Laki sosiaaliturvajärjestelmien yhteensovittamista koskevan Euroopan unionin lainsäädännön soveltamisesta (Act on the application of European Union legislation concerning the coordination of social security systems, in Finnish) 352/2010 (Finlex)

Health Insurance Act 1224/2004 (Finlex)

Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the coordination of social security systems (EUR-Lex)

Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems (EUR-Lex)

Nordic Convention on Social Security (in Finnish) 136/2004 (Finlex)

Valtioneuvoston asetus rajat ylittävään terveydenhuoltoon liittyvien kustannusten hallinnoinnista (Government Decree on the management of costs related to cross-border healthcare, in Finnish) 65/2014 (Finlex)

Medicines

The legislation concerning medicines is intended to guarantee effective, safe, purposeful and economical medication for all who require it.

Legislation on medicines (in Finnish) (STM)

European prescription

The patient directive requires the EU countries to accept prescriptions from other member states. The Finnish Medicines Act contains provisions on the mutual acceptance of prescriptions. The Commission implementing directive contains provisions concerning information that the prescription must contain in order for it to be fulfilled in another member state.

Lääkelaki (Medicines Act, in Finnish) 395/1987 (Finlex)

Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare (EUR-Lex)

Commission Implementing Directive 2012/52/EU laying down measures to facilitate the recognition of medical prescriptions issued in another Member State (EUR-Lex)

Accessibility of buildings

In Finland, construction is guided by the Land Use and Building Act and its supplementary decree. They contain the essential provisions concerning the accessibility of building environments.

Land Use and Building Act 132/1999 (Finlex)

Land Use and Building Decree 895/1999 (Finlex)

Appeals

The authority receiving the appeal and the legislation to be applied depend on the matter subject to appeal. Always contact the decision-maker separately in order to determine the procedures related to the appeal process.

Appealing on admittance to treatment and the treatment itself

Act on the Status and Rights of Patients 785/1992 (Finlex)

Administrative Procedure Act 434/2003 (Finlex)

Customer fees within public healthcare

Laki sosiaali- ja terveydenhuollon asiakasmaksuista (Act on Client Charges in Social Welfare and Healthcare, in Finnish) 734/1992 (Finlex)

Kela’s decision concerning a certificate of entitlement to treatment

Act on Cross-Border Health Care 1201/2013 (Finlex)

Kela’s decision concerning prior authorisation for seeking treatment

Act on Cross-Border Health Care 1201/2013 (Finlex)

Hallintolainkäyttölaki (Act on the application of the Administrative Procedure Act, in Finnish) 586/1996 (Finlex)

Reimbursements from Kela

Act on Cross-Border Health Care 1201/2013 (Finlex)

Health Insurance Act 1224/2004 (Finlex)