Treatment in Finland

  1. When is a person coming from abroad entitled to treatment in Finnish public health care?

All those in need of emergency treatment are always entitled to emergency treatment in public health care, regardless of nationality or place of residence. Persons coming from a country other than an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or Australia must usually cover the costs of the emergency treatment themselves.

All those permanently resident in Finland are entitled to access public health care services. Permanent residency means that the person in question has a municipality of residence in Finland. The municipality of residence is decided on by the local register office.

In Finland, the right to treatment of those coming from abroad may be based on EU legislation or an international convention, in addition to residency in Finland. In other words, persons coming from abroad may, in some cases, be entitled to treatment in the same way as Finnish residents even though they do not have a municipality of residence in Finland. On request, Kela will determine the right of the person in question to access public health care services.

  1. Where do I get information on treatment possibilities in Finland?

A person who seeks treatment in Finland should primarily seek information on the treatment possibilities directly from the treatment providers. The contact information for hospital districts can be found here.

The contact point for cross-border health care provides information on the practices of seeking treatment as well as the related costs and payments and the requirements concerning the quality and availability of care.

  1. How are decisions on admitting patients into public health care made in Finland?

The admission and order of urgency of patients are determined based on the need for care and urgency assessed by a health care professional. The treatment is provided based on a tiered arrangement in either basic or specialised health care. Patients cannot choose themselves whether the treatment is provided in basic or specialised health care.

A referral is always required for specialised health care. If the patient has a referral written in another EU country, it must be accepted if it includes the information needed to assess the need for care treatment. The referral should be written in Finnish or Swedish. A referral written in English can be accepted if it includes the necessary information.

The same criteria and deadlines for accessing treatment apply to people who reside in Finland but are health-insured in another EU country.

  1. Can a hospital district, health centre or private service provider require advance payment from a patient coming from abroad?

Yes, if the person in question is coming to Finland for the purpose of receiving treatment.

  1. Can a hospital decline a patient coming from abroad for treatment?

A patient with health insurance in another EU country must be accepted if they seek treatment in Finland.

Public health care may limit the admission of patients coming for treatment from abroad for a fixed period only if this is absolutely necessary to secure health care services for residents in the municipality in question. The restriction may remain in effect for 12 months at a time, and can only apply to the portion of the operations (such as a specialist field or treatment queue), the capacity of which has been exceeded. Notification of the implementation of such a restriction must be sent to the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), the Regional State Administrative Agency and the contact point for cross-border health care, which will publish the effective restrictions online.

Irrespective of the validity of the admission restriction, patients coming from abroad must be treated if they are entitled to access public health care services pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the coordination of social security systems, a convention on social security or some other international agreement. Therefore, admission cannot be declined if the person in question is an EU citizen working in Finland or a tourist temporarily staying in Finland.

Emergency treatment must be provided regardless of the place of residence or nationality of the person in question.

  1. Is a foreign patient staying in Finland temporarily entitled to dialysis treatment, oxygen therapy or chemotherapy?

Persons covered by the health insurance scheme in another country are entitled to be treated for sicknesses requiring dialysis treatment, oxygen therapy or chemotherapy during their temporary stay. They are also entitled to echocardiograms and specialised asthma treatments related to autoimmune diseases. Persons who require treatment for such disease will receive the treatment they need for the entire duration of their stay.

However, the treatment of long-term diseases requiring specialised personnel or equipment must be agreed upon in advance with the unit providing the treatment.

All patients coming from abroad, irrespective of their place of residence or nationality, are entitled to dialysis treatment if the need is urgent.

  1. If a foreign student falls ill with cancer during an exchange programme in Finland, must he/she be provided with radiation treatment in Finland?

The student must be provided with emergency care and at least the acute treatment for the first phase of the cancer.

If the student has come to Finland from another EU or EEA country or Switzerland, he/she is entitled to receive medically necessary treatment during the stay in Finland on the same grounds as Finnish residents. A doctor will assess if the radiation treatment is medically necessary during the say in Finland or if it can wait until the patient returns home. Students can demonstrate their right to radiation treatment and possible other cancer treatments with their European Health Insurance Card.

Students who come to Finland from outside Europe must hold a private insurance policy to cover the treatment costs.

  1. What kind of health care is a frontier worker entitled to? Who covers the costs?

In EU legislation, a frontier worker is a person who works and resides in separate member states. Frontier workers usually return to their country of residence on a daily basis or at least once a week. Frontier workers are entitled to medical care in their country of residence and their country of employment. Frontier workers can demonstrate their right to access public health care services a certificate of entitlement to medical care in Finland, which is granted by Kela.

Frontier workers who work in Finland and reside in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland are entitled to medical treatment in Finnish public health care for the municipal residents’ client fee even if their municipality of residence is not in Finland. Frontier workers can seek treatment in any public health care unit in Finland. Kela will reimburse the costs of treating a frontier worker to the municipality or joint municipal authority maintaining public health care if the worker’s municipality of residence is not in Finland.

Due to the fact that they are municipal residents, frontier workers who reside in Finland and work in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland are entitled to access Finnish public health care services in the same way and for the same price as other municipal residents. State compensation is paid for the treatment costs even if the frontier worker’s municipality of residence is in Finland. Finland will charge the costs of the treatment from the country where the worker is employed.

  1. Where can I get a European Health Insurance Card or other certificate of right to treatment when I am staying in Finland temporarily?

A European Health Insurance Card is always granted by the country which is responsible for your medical care costs. You can obtain the card from your own health insurance institution The card is standardised and is granted in the official language of each state that applies the EU legislation. In Finnish, the card is called “Eurooppalainen sairaanhoitokortti”. The European Health Insurance Card is sometimes referred to with the abbreviation EHIC.

If you do not have an EHIC card, you can request one or a corresponding certificate from your health insurance institution. Kela’s Centre for International Affairs can also request a temporary certificate to replace the card on your behalf, if necessary.