The public healthcare system of Denmark operates across three levels: state, regions and municipalities. Publicly financed healthcare covers all primary, specialist, hospital and preventive care, mental health care, long-term care services and dental services for children under age 18. Under state supervision, the five regions are primarily responsible for hospitals, general practitioners and psychiatric care whereas municipalities are responsible for a number of primary healthcare services and elderly care.
If you are temporarily staying in Denmark, you are entitled to medically necessary treatment. Residents of the Nordic countries may also be entitled to medically necessary treatment in Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return to Finland. You may need it, for example, because of an acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment relating to pregnancy, childbirth or chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay. You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as local residents. If your illness requires regular treatment while you are temporarily staying abroad, agree with the treatment provider beforehand on the arrangement of treatment. Treatments that need to be arranged in advance include, for example, dialysis, oxygen therapy, specialised care of asthma and chemotherapy as well as echocardiography in chronic autoimmune diseases.
The European Health Insurance Card is not required in the Nordic countries from people who are permanently living in Finland. Therefore, showing your valid identity card and stating your current address is usually sufficient for receiving treatment in Denmark (incl. Greenland and Faroe Islands). An identity card can be a passport, an identity card issued by the police or a driver’s licence.
Treatment covered by public healthcare is usually free of charge for citizens residing permanently in a Nordic country. If you did not have an identity card when seeking treatment and had to pay full price, you can apply for reimbursement retrospectively by contacting the local social services and healthcare service in the municipality of stay before leaving Denmark. In order to receive reimbursement, you need to present all the original receipts and your identity card or Kela Card. Alternatively you can apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
Information on healthcare is available from the Danish Ministry of Health, Sundhedsministeriet. Practical information is also available in the healthcare system portal Sundhed.dk (in Danish). The citizens’ information service offers more information.
You can see a general practitioner (GP) who has an agreement with Denmark’s public healthcare. Nearly all GPs are self-employed and paid by the regions. The practices are usually open on weekdays between 8:00 and 16:00. Some practices are also open on one evening of the week. You can see a specialist after receiving a referral from a general practitioner. Showing your identity card will entitle you to free treatment by both general practitioners and specialists. If you require an interpreter, mention this when making a reservation and one can be provided for you. You may have to pay for the interpreter.
A general practitioner can provide you with a referral to a specialist. A referral is not required for treatment with an otorhinolaryngologist or an ophthalmologist.
During urgent attacks of illness that occur after 16:00 on weekdays, you can see an on-duty doctor (lægevagt). Lægevagten’s website (in Danish) contains contact information for the on-duty doctors. Laegevagten in the capital area is Akuttelefonen 1813 (website in Danish).
You can see a dentist who has an agreement with public healthcare. Show your identity card at the practice. Reimbursement is available for specific standard treatments and it will be deducted directly from the dentist’s invoice. Please note, however, that some procedures (such as prosthetic teeth or crowns) are not reimbursed at all. Dental care is free in Denmark for patients under the age of 18, and patients under the age of 26 receive a higher amount of reimbursement than older patients.
The amount of reimbursement for prescribed medication depends on which medication have been prescribed to you and the amount of money that you have spent on medication over the calendar year. Show your identity card and prescription at the pharmacy.
If necessary, a doctor will provide you with a referral for free hospital treatment. In case of emergency, you can go directly to the first aid of a public hospital (”skadestuen”, ”Akutklinik” or ”Akutmodtagelse”) which treats acute injuries from the past 24 hours or illnesses that started during the same time period. In such a case, show your identity card and request that the hospital provide you with free treatment. Most Danish hospitals have a first aid station, but there are some hospitals that have no walk-in clinics. Please also note that the first-aid clinics of some hospitals require advance notification by phone before arrival.
Urgent ambulance transport to the nearest hospital is free.
Returning to Finland (specific to the Nordic countries)
If your illness requires you to use a more expensive means of travel than normal when returning to Finland (such as a type of special transport), you are entitled to receive reimbursement from Denmark (incl. Greenland and Faroe Islands). The reimbursement will cover the share of your travel costs that was caused by the more expensive means of travel. In other words, you will pay the same price for the return trip as you would have done when using your normal means of travel (when fully healthy). The prerequisite for the reimbursement is that you receive a doctor’s certificate from Denmark before your return trip, and that it indicates why the more expensive means of travel is required.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish to travel to Denmark for the purpose of using healthcare services you can find general information on seeking treatment abroad on our site. Some useful websites concerning seeking treatment in Denmark are listed below.
The website of the coordinating National Contact Point of Denmark contains information on seeking treatment in Denmark. The website also has contact information of the five national contact points (patient advisors) in each of the five regions in Denmark.
Most of the general practitioners, specialists and dentists provide treatment for public insured patients in Denmark according to regional agreements. However, they will also accept private patients who pay for the treatment themselves. More information concerning the healthcare professionals in a specific municipality or region is available on the website sundhed.dk (in Danish).
The prices in Danish public hospitals are usually fixed (also known as DRG prices) and they are the same in all hospitals. Price information can be found (in Danish) on the website of the Danish Health Data Authority (Sundhedsdatastyrelsen). The national contact points in the five regions can prove more specific information about the price for the treatment in question.
Quality and safety of treatment
The website of the public authority for patient safety (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed), includes information about all health care professionals registered in Denmark. In the register you can check if a certain doctor or other health care professional has a valid registration and whether he or she is for example under supervision.
If you have received erroneous or deficient treatment at a Danish public or private hospital, clinic or other place of treatment, you can file a complaint with the Danish Patient Complaints (Styrelsen for Patientklager). You can report malpractices and other detriments related to treatment to the Danish patient insurance centre Patient Compensation Association (Patienterstatningen).
The Danish Institute for Quality and Accreditation in Healthcare (Institut for Kvalitet og Akkreditering i Sundhedsvæsenet, IKAS) maintains and develops the Danish Healthcare Quality Programme (Den Danske Kvalitetsmodel, DDKM). The DDKM sets the quality standards for accreditation in healthcare and develops methods for measuring and supervising quality. More information is available on IKAS’s website.