You are entitled to medically necessary treatment, when you are temporarily staying in Norway. Medically necessary treatment usually refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a 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 the locals. If your illness requires regular treatment while you are temporarily staying abroad, contact the health care provider abroad in advance and agree on arranging the 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.
Persons covered by Finnish social security do not need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling in the Nordic countries. It is therefore usually sufficient in Norway’s public healthcare system to show your ID or valid Kela card. If you didn’t have your ID or valid Kela card with you, you might have to pay the full price of the treatment yourself. In this case, you can apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
In need of doctor, you should seek care with a general practitioner (fastlege) contracted by the municipality. Most general practitioners (GP) in Norway have such a contract. GP practices usually comprise one to six physicians. You can find contact information for regional practices on the Fastleger site. You can also request for doctors´ contact information from Helfo on +47 23 32 70 00.
You must have a GP’s referral to see a specialist. There are both hospital-based specialists as well as outpatient specialists available. In special medical care, the patient has the right to choose a place of treatment from all public hospitals in the country as well as from those private providers with which the four regions that organise the services have signed an agreement. Specialists hired by the hospitals can only charge a general fee, but those working in practices can charge more freely. In principle, patients have a choice of specialist.
Costs for GP and specialist visits are partially reimbursed. The public healthcare providers have a price limit, which they cannot exceed with their pricing. In principle, you should not have to apply for reimbursements retrospectively for services covered by the public healthcare system. You receive treatment at a price in which the reimbursement has already been made and so you should only have to pay for the standard patient contribution. However, reimbursement of travel costs is sought retrospectively. Read more about reimbursement of travel costs (Pasientreiser) on the Helsenorge site.
If you fall sick after-hours, call after-hours services (legevakt) in 116 117. The more densely populated municipalities have walk-in centres where nurses triage patients and answer calls. Several doctors see patients throughout the day and night. In smaller municipalities, patients must call the after-hours phone number and speak with a nurse who decides whether they should see a GP.
Costs for after-hours services (legevakt) are higher than for ordinary primary healthcare services. Hospital treatment (including medication) and emergency ambulatory transport are free of charge. If you are being treated on an outpatient basis or by a specialist in a hospital´s outpatient clinic, the patient fees will be charged in the same way as for a visit to a general practitioner. Outpatient clinic visits for patients under 16 and for specific special groups are free. You may have to pay extra charges for certain imaging examinations (for example, X-rays, ultrasound scans) and for supplies (e.g. hospital clothing).
In larger cities, there are also a few private clinics on call, where the patient pays the expenses.
Generally, compensation for dental expenses for adults is not given, but the patient pays the expenses entirely. In special cases (for example, dental surgery procedures) you can receive a reimbursement. The treating dentist will usually advise you. However, dental care in the public sector for patients aged 18 and under is free.
Most prescription medicines in Norway are non-reimbursable, i.e. you pay the full price for them in the pharmacy.
In an emergency, an ambulance can be called from the general emergency number 113. You can get to a hospital with a referral from a primary care doctor or in emergency cases (accidents, suspected heart attacks, seizures, etc.) directly by ambulance.
Returning to Finland (specific to the Nordic countries)
If, due to illness, you have to return to Finland using a more expensive method of travel (for example, special transportation) than you would have normally, you will be entitled to reimbursement from Norway. The reimbursement will cover the additional expenses incurred from the more expensive method of travel. You pay the same amount for the return journey as you would have paid when travelling in an ordinary way when healthy.
The requirement for reimbursement is that you have a medical certificate written in Norway that indicates the necessity of a more expensive method of travel.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you want to travel to Norway to use healthcare services there, you should read our website for general information about seeking treatment abroad. Information concerning Norway is available on the website of the National Contact Point of Norway.
Quality and safety of treatment
In the event of a patient injury, the legislation and patient insurance policies of the country providing treatment are always followed. If you are dissatisfied with the care you received, try to clarify the matter with the doctor who treated you. The National Contact Point can help you find the right authority if you want to make a complaint.
In Norway, primary healthcare is the responsibility of the municipalities. Funds paid to municipalities are generally not earmarked, so municipalities are allowed to set their own healthcare budgets. The Norwegian Ministry of Health has an indirect role in terms of legislation and funding.
Public healthcare covers planned and unplanned primary care, hospitals and medical transport. Municipalities organise primary healthcare medical services through contracts with private practitioners. Usually, each person is registered as a client of one doctor, and the patient has the right to choose which doctor he/she is listed with. Four areas are responsible for organizing specialised medical care.
Hospitals are almost all public, and acute medical care is always provided by a public service provider. There are some private hospitals, but they only offer non-urgent care. In Norway, you cannot get reimbursement for the costs of private healthcare unless the service provider has an agreement with the public side.