The Swedish healthcare system includes both public and private healthcare services.
Public healthcare is managed and run either by a county council, local authority or municipality who can freely manage and prioritize their own healthcare resources. As a result, healthcare service types can vary.
Private healthcare services that have a contract with the National Health Services, have the same costs as public healthcare. However, for healthcare services that are not under such a contract you are as a patient liable to pay for the full cost of any care you receive.
Dental care in Sweden is also both private and public. Public dental care is generally referred to as “folktandvård”.
You are entitled to medically necessary treatment, when you are temporarily staying in Sweden. 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, 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 covered by the Finnish social security system. Therefore, showing your identity card and stating your current address is usually sufficient for receiving treatment in Sweden. An identity card can be a passport, or some other identity card issued by the police. Usually a driver’s licence is accepted as an identity card, but it is recommended to carry some other form of identity card with you to be sure.
If you do not have your identity card or driver’s licence 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.
When receiving necessary healthcare from the public healthcare system in Sweden, you will only be liable for the patient fee (patientavgift). Treatment is available for the price of the patient fee at health centres, public hospitals and those private health service providers (doctors, hospitals, clinics) that have made an agreement with Sweden’s county council. Information concerning how patient fees are defined can be found in the Vårdguiden online service (patientavgifter).
If you receive treatment at an entirely private clinic (that does not have a care agreement), you will need to pay full price and will not receive reimbursement in Sweden.
Health centres are open on weekdays and reservations can be made by phone. Most health centres also have a walk-in reception during specific times. You can look for a healthcare service provider in the 1177 Vårdguiden online service. The information phone service is also available 24 hours a day and it can be reached by dialling 1177 (from Sweden) or +46 771 11 77 00 (when calling from outside of Sweden). You can also call this number to ask for the contact information of on-duty doctors during evenings and weekends, for example.
The contact information for dentists is available on the Folktandvården website.
In need of a doctor, you can contact a general practitioner (allmänläkare) at a health centre (vårdcentral) or clinic (läkarmottagning). Health centres also have nurses (distriktsköterska) who can treat wounds or prescribe medicine when the situation is not serious.
You can make an appointment with a specialist directly, but seeing a general practitioner first is advisable (and cheaper), since they can write a referral to a specialist if necessary. A doctor’s referral is usually required for hospital treatment.
When you require immediate dental care, you can go to a public dental care clinic (folktandvårdsklinik) or to a private dentist who has an agreement with Försäkringskassan (most dentists do).
Dentists can freely determine what to charge for a specific treatment as long as the cost is reasonable in relation to the treatment provided. Reimbursement of dental care costs is based on reference prices. The reference price is a fixed price set for each treatment procedure and its amount is determined by the Swedish government. Therefore, if you go to a dentist that charges above the reference prices, you will be liable for the portion that exceeds the reference price. The dentist must have a list of the reference prices and the prices charged by the dentist, and you should determine them before the treatment is started.
In Sweden, electronic prescriptions are most often used in place of paper prescriptions. Show your identity card when collecting your prescribed medicines at a pharmacy (apoteket). You will receive a pharmacy card (apotekskort) that is valid for 12 months and that will be used to register your medicine purchases. This may entitle you to partial reimbursement for your medicines.
In an emergency, you can go straight to the first aid unit (akutmottagning) of a public hospital. You can also go to a private hospital if it has an agreement with the county council.
The costs for travelling to a hospital are reimbursed if specific prerequisites are met, and the conditions vary between counties. You can ask the hospital about the travel allowance. Emergency medical transport by ambulance or helicopter is most commonly free of charge, but a user fee will be charged in some counties.
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 Sweden. 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 Sweden 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 Sweden for the purpose of using healthcare services, you can find general information on seeking treatment abroad on our site. Some useful websites are also listed below. You should direct your questions about healthcare in Sweden to the Swedish National Contact Point. Sweden has two national contact points. Socialstyrelsen gives advice to foreigners who intend to seek healthcare in Sweden. Försäkringskassan acts as a contact point for Swedish residents who are seeking treatment outside Sweden.
You can find information on public healthcare services from the website of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges kommuner och landsting). The site contains a link to the county council’s own pages that provide more information on regional services.
Quality and safety of treatment
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider. If you are not satisfied with the quality of treatment that you receive in Sweden and wish to make a complaint, turn to the website of the Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO) for more information.