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.

 

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 (in Finnish)

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.

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.

Several healthcare services are governed by specific Acts:

Legislation concerning private healthcare (in Finnish)

The following acts and decrees apply to private healthcare:

Patient rights (in Finnish)

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.

Fees collected for the use of services (in Finnish)

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.

Healthcare professionals (in Finnish)

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.

Patient documents (in Finnish)

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.

Language of treatment (in Finnish)

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).

Treatment injuries (in Finnish)

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.

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.

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.

Medicines

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

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.

Accessibility of buildings (in Finnish)

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.

Appeals (in Finnish)

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

Customer fees within public healthcare

Kela’s decision concerning a certificate of entitlement to treatment

Kela’s decision concerning prior authorisation for seeking treatment

Reimbursements from Kela