Where to seek treatment if I fall ill while travelling abroad?
Each country provides treatment in accordance with its legislation. You can find country-specific information about healthcare services on the EU-healthcare.fi website.
If you have a European Health Insurance Card, you will receive medically necessary treatment in the EU and EEA countries, the United Kingdom and Switzerland by presenting the card. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as local residents. When travelling in Australia, you will receive the necessary treatment by presenting your Kela card and passport.
When travelling in other countries, you are entitled to urgent medical care. It is recommended to take out travel insurance that covers medical care costs.
Can I seek treatment abroad? How does this happen in practice?
You can freely seek treatment in another EU or EEA country, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland, either independently or with a prior authorisation pursuant to the relevant EU regulation. You are entitled to access treatment on the same terms as local residents. However, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are not legally obliged to treat you if you travel there independently to access health care services.
Find a place for treatment that suits your needs and agree on the arrangements for the treatment with the treatment provider in advance. Read also the checklist for treatment seekers.
If you independently seek treatment in an EU or EEA country, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland, you must first pay all the treatment costs yourself. You can then claim reimbursement for the treatment from Kela afterwards. Kela will reimburse the costs up to what similar treatment in Finland in your wellbeing services country would have cost. However, you will always have to pay the client fee that the Finnish healthcare system would have charged for your treatment.
If you seek treatment with a prior authorisation pursuant to the relevant EU regulation, you will pay the local client fee for the treatment. You can browse frequently asked questions about prior authorisation at EU-healthcare.fi.
You are free to seek treatment also outside the EU or EEA countries. In this case, you cannot receive Kela reimbursement for treatment costs. Also, treatment providers are not obliged to treat you. Agree on the treatment directly with the care provider.
Where do I get information on treatment possibilities and costs abroad?
As a rule of thumb, you should investigate and determine the treatment possibilities in your desired country yourself. You can find links and tips on health services and their costs on our country-specific webpages. Each EU country also has a Contact Point for Cross-Border Health Care from which you can ask about the country’s health services.
Ask about the costs in advance from the hospital or place of treatment you aim to go to.
Can a hospital refuse to treat me if I go to another EU country for treatment?
Not without a special reason. According to the EU Patient Directive, patients from other EU countries must be admitted and treated on the same terms as local residents. If there is a waiting list, you will have to wait as local residents.
The admission of patients coming from another EU country can only be restricted if it would compromise the availability of treatment to domestic patients. For example, if the number of patients coming from abroad exceeds the capacity of a hospital to provide treatment to local patients, it may refuse treatment. The hospital must report this, so you can ask the Contact Point for Cross-Border Healthcare in the country in question for any restrictions.
How will follow-up treatment be organised if I have received treatment in another country?
You will receive follow-up treatment in Finland in the usual way. You do not need to seek follow-up treatment abroad if you have first received treatment abroad. A doctor will assess what kind of follow-up treatment is needed. Follow-up treatment in Finland may differ from that recommended by doctors in another country, as the treatment practices differ from country to country.
If you receive treatment abroad, ask to have all the treatment documents at the end of the treatment. The patient documents help in assessing the need for care and follow-up treatment.
Why would people living in Finland seek treatment abroad? Is it common?
People have many reasons to seek treatment abroad, such as cheaper costs or shorter waiting lists. The treatment of some rare diseases may have been concentrated in specific countries. Some people may want to be treated in a specific hospital or by a specific doctor. Many also have family, language or cultural ties abroad.
You can check the Contact Point for Cross-Border Healthcare’s Slideshare presentation for Kela’s statistics on reimbursements for treatment abroad. However, the statistics do not include treatment that has not been claimed for reimbursement from Kela, or that is not Kela-reimbursable.