Dental care is most often sought in Estonia – see the statistics on cross-border healthcare


Statistics on cross-border healthcare in 2022 have been published. Statistics show that the number of Finns seeking treatment abroad is still low, but the number of Finns seeking dental care has slightly increased since last year.

The statistics on cross-border healthcare contain information, for example, on which countries people from Finland sought treatment in and how Kela reimbursed for treatment provided abroad. The statistics compiled by the Contact Point for Cross-Border Healthcare and Kela can be found on the Contact Point’s Slideshare account. There are separate statistics on seeking dental care. Seeking treatment refers to situations where people travel abroad for the express purpose of receiving treatment.

In interpreting the statistics, it should be noted that the statistics only show those cases of seeking treatment for which the person has applied for reimbursement from Kela. In addition, reimbursement can be applied for up to six months after the treatment is provided, so the data may appear in the statistics with a delay.

Treatment is most often sought in Estonia

The countries where Finns most often sought treatment independently were Estonia, Spain, Germany, Poland and Belgium. The number of Finns seeking treatment abroad has been in decline in recent years. However, the statistics for 2022 show a slight increase in the amount of reimbursements paid by Kela compared to 2021.

In 2022, Kela still reimbursed the costs of seeking treatment independently in accordance with the old model, i.e. in the same way as if a person had used private health care services in Finland. As of the beginning of 2023, there have been amendments to the reimbursement model for seeking treatment independently, and Kela pays reimbursements up to the amount that equivalent treatment would have cost in the customer’s own wellbeing services county in Finland.

Reimbursements for medicines on the rise

Statistics show that the reimbursement rates for medical expenses incurred abroad have increased from the previous year. Reimbursements were granted in the amount of almost EUR 100,000, while in 2021 this amount was less than EUR 70,000. However, the amount has not risen as high as in 2020, when the amount of reimbursements for medical expenses incurred in the EU was over EUR 140,000.

Costs of treatment with prior authorisation increased

Customers can also seek treatment abroad with a prior authorisation pursuant to the relevant EU regulation. A prior authorisation is a payment commitment that Kela will grant if public healthcare recommends it. If a customer has prior authorisation, they only need to pay the local client fee for the treatment. The actual costs of treatment have previously been the responsibility of the hospital districts and, from 2023 onwards, they are the responsibility of the wellbeing services counties.

In 2022, 143 prior authorisations were applied for and 81 were granted, which was slightly less than in the previous years. However, in 2022, the health districts paid more for treatment covered by the prior authorisation than in previous years, namely EUR 1,125,230. In 2021, for example, the corresponding amount was EUR 707,198. This may indicate that those with prior authorisation have sought more expensive treatment last year.

Slight increase in seeking dental care

The statistics on dental care show that, as in previous years, Estonia was the country where Finns most often sought treatment independently in 2022.

The number of applications for reimbursement and the number of reimbursements granted has been in decline in recent years, but the statistics for 2022 show a slight increase compared to 2021. In 2022, reimbursements for independently sought dental care were granted in the amount of around EUR 108,000 and, in 2021, in the amount of around EUR 91,000.

Treatment outside the EU will no longer be reimbursed

The statistics for 2022 show how Kela has reimbursed treatment costs incurred in countries outside the EU. Kela reimbursed treatment in situations where the costs were incurred due to sudden illness, chronic disease, pregnancy or childbirth. The reimbursement was small in relation to the amount of the costs.

In 2022, Kela granted the most of these reimbursements for medical care costs incurred in Thailand (EUR 42,000), Turkey (EUR 19,000) and the United States (EUR 5,000), as in previous years.

As of 2023, Kela no longer pays reimbursements for treatment costs incurred outside the EU and EEA countries, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.