Leaving Finland for treatment abroad
If you wish, you can travel to another EU or EEA country or Switzerland for treatment. You will receive reimbursements from Kela for the treatment according to the same principles as in Finland. Clarify thoroughly in advance the practical issues relating to the treatment. This page contains a checklist of them for your convenience.
Things to remember
Determine the destination country and place of treatment
Agree on practical arrangements and travel for treatment
Pay the costs of the treatment and apply for reimbursements
You can use health care services in EU countries
If you live in an EU country, you can travel to another EU country to use public and private health care services. You will receive reimbursements from Kela for the treatment in the same way as if you had used private health care services in Finland. You can be reimbursed for the costs of treatment in another EU or EEA country or in Switzerland.
Please note that treatment is always provided in accordance with the national legislation and health care system of each respective country.
The legislation of the country providing the treatment is also applied in the case of treatment injuries. This means that the matter must be clarified with the treatment provider and that any compensation is sought from the authorities of the country in question. Finnish patient insurance does not cover injuries that occur abroad.
What is seeking treatment?
Seeking treatment means that you travel from your country of residence to another country specifically to receive treatment. If you receive treatment abroad on account of a sudden illness or accident, this is not counted as seeking treatment.
With or without prior authorisation?
In terms of costs, there are two options for seeking treatment: with or without prior authorisation. The more common way, which we describe on this page, is to travel for treatment without prior authorisation, in which case you will pay all the costs related to the treatment yourself and apply for reimbursements from Kela retrospectively.
You can also apply for prior authorisation, i.e. a payment commitment, from Kela.
– Read more about prior authorisation and on what grounds it can be granted
Are you considering treatment abroad? Read the stories of Jorma and Leena.
Jorma seeks dental care in Estonia
– Seeking treatment without prior authorisation
Leena’s twin pregnancy care in Germany
– Seeking treatment with prior authorisation
Things to remember when you want to seek treatment abroad
Determine the destination
- Find out the possibilities of obtaining the treatment you need in another country
- Find a suitable place of treatment and ensure that the treatment provider is licensed
Agree on practical arrangements
- Agree on the date of treatment and fees
- Confirm the language of treatment and arrange interpretation, if necessary
- Obtain a doctor’s referral, if required
Remember medical records and translations
- Have your medical records translated and deliver them to the treatment provider
- Ask the treatment provider for all the documents related to you and bring them with you to Finland
- Have the documents translated into Finnish if you need follow-up treatment
Pay the costs and apply for reimbursements
- Pay all the costs related to the treatment and save the receipts
- Apply for reimbursement from Kela within six months of payment
Help with preparations
How to find a place of treatment
You can look for a suitable place of treatment through the websites of different countries, for example. See our country-specific pages for more information on the health care practices and services of different countries. You can also contact the contact point for cross-border health care of the destination country. You can request information from local patient associations on how a particular illness is treated in the destination country.
Determine and agree on practical arrangements and fees with your chosen place of treatment. If necessary, ensure that medical records are translated into a language understood by the treatment provider. Remember to bring the documents with you to the place of treatment. After the treatment, ask the treatment provider for medical records and have them translated into Finnish if you need follow-up treatment in Finland.
Costs and fees
When you travel for treatment without prior authorisation, you will pay all the costs related to the treatment yourself, including medications, accommodation and interpretation. You can apply for reimbursements from Kela retrospectively. Another option is to apply for a payment commitment, i.e. prior authorisation, from Kela.
What reimbursements you will receive for the treatment
Kela reimburses the costs of treatment provided in another EU or EEA country or in Switzerland in the same way as the costs of private health care services in Finland when you have travelled to the destination country specifically to obtain treatment. The prerequisite is that the treatment in question is included in the range of services available in the Finnish health care system. Apply for reimbursement from Kela within 6 months of paying for the treatment.
What if you suffer a treatment injury?
The legislation of the country providing the treatment is applied in the event of treatment injuries. If you suffer a treatment injury abroad, apply for compensation from the country that provided the treatment. You cannot apply for compensation from Finland for a treatment injury suffered abroad. The contact point of the destination country provides advice on what to do in a problem situation.
Read more practical stories and examples (in Finnish) of how and why Finns leave Finland for treatment abroad.
- Want to seek treatment abroad? Pirkko visits the dentist in Tallinn (Elämässä.fi, in Finnish)
- 4 things to remember when seeking treatment abroad (elämässä.fi, in Finnish)
- Why Finns leave Finland for treatment abroad? (elämässä.fi, in Finnish
- I am entitled to dental care in Estonia – or am I? (elämässä.fi, in Finnish)
- On a health care service trip around the world (elämässä.fi, in Finnish)