Medical care for undocumented persons in Finland
Treating undocumented persons is not illegal under any circumstances. Healthcare professionals have the duty and right to provide healthcare services to those who need it. Health care professionals do not have a right to report persons staying in the country illegally to the authorities, and they are subject to extensive duties of confidentiality and providing assistance.
A health care professional must always assess the necessity and need for services. The assessment must consider the duration of the stay and the health status of the client.
Necessary health services include at least the following:
- services related to pregnancy and childbirth (including maternity clinic services, birth control advice and abortion)
- certain services related to the necessary treatment for long-term illnesses and other illnesses
- health checks, vaccinations and treatments necessary for communicable diseases.
Undocumented children have the right to health care services on the same basis as children with a municipality of residence in Finland. Treatment should also be provided to a child’s guardian if their condition may impair their ability to take care of the child. In such situations, providing treatment for the guardian’s condition may be considered necessary for the child’s best interest.
Costs of treatment for undocumented persons
In general, undocumented persons are responsible for the medical care costs that they incur in Finland. If the costs of the treatment cannot be collected from the persons themselves, Kela will reimburse to the public healthcare provider the costs that exceed the client fee. If the undocumented person is clearly without means, public healthcare may waive the recovery of costs. Undocumented persons should, however, always pay the client fee for public healthcare.
Global Clinic offers free health care services for undocumented persons. The clinics operate in Helsinki, Turku, Oulu, Lahti, Tampere and Joensuu and employ volunteer doctors and medical personnel. Undocumented persons can visit the clinic without proving their identity, and their visit remains confidential. The address of the clinic is secret and only disclosed when an undocumented person contacts the clinic.
Undocumented persons refer to several groups of people
Undocumented persons or persons whose status resembles that of an undocumented person refer to several different groups of people, and the terminology is not standardised. Generally speaking, undocumented persons refer to all or some of the below groups of people:
- a person who is staying in Finland for a longer period without a valid residence permit or visa
- a person who holds a temporary residence permit in Finland but does not have a municipality of residence
- an EU citizen and their family members who are legally in the country but have no insurance protection for illness or medical care.
The right to medical care of undocumented persons does not cover people temporarily residing in the country (for example, tourists) or who have sought treatment in Finland.