Country where Finns most often sought treatment in 2019 was Estonia – cross-border health care statistics


The statistical information on the cross-border health care compiled by the Contact Point for Cross-Border Healthcare and Kela show, among other things, how much reimbursements for medical care has been paid by Kela for treatment given abroad and countries where Finns most often seek treatment. You can view the statistical information via the contact point’s Slideshare account. This year we have also compiled separate statistics on seeking dental care.

Seeking treatment refers to situations where people travel abroad for the express purpose of receiving treatment without prior authorisation. The countries where Finns most often sought treatment in 2019 were Estonia, Spain and Hungary. Customers paid about €2 million in expenses for medical care given in Estonia. This figure is slightly lower than in 2018, when the expenses paid by customers were €2.6 million. Similarly, the amount of medical care reimbursements paid by Kela for treatment given in Estonia decreased to €283,000 (2019) from €371,000 in the previous year (2018).

When interpreting the statistics, it must be remembered that it is difficult to allocate the costs of cross-border health care to a specific year and this makes it difficult to compare years. Customers can apply for reimbursement for treatment abroad up to six months after the treatment.

Outside the EU, Finns used health care services the most in Thailand

Outside the EU and EEA countries and Switzerland, Finns used the most health care services in Thailand, the United States and Turkey in 2019. The top three was also the same in the previous year. The health care costs paid by customers in Thailand increased significantly from €683,000 (2018) to €1.3 million (2019). However, the total amount of reimbursements paid has remained almost at the same level. For example, in 2019, Kela reimbursed expenses resulting from getting ill in Thailand in the amount of €40,000, while the figure in 2018 was €36,000. Kela reimburses expenses resulting from medical care outside the EU area in the event of sudden illness, long-term illness, pregnancy or childbirth.

Residents of Finland seek dental care the most often in Estonia

The majority of the reimbursements for health care expenses are reimbursements for dental care. Now, there are dedicated statistics for seeking dental care.

The dental care figures only include the costs of dentist’s fees, i.e. not the costs of examinations and treatments prescribed by the dentist.

Residents of Finland most often seek dental care in Estonia. In 2019, Kela paid reimbursements for dental care provided in Estonia in the amount of approximately €174,000. Statistics are not compiled on the number of people. The difference to the next most popular countries, such as Spain in second place, is clear. Kela decided on 346 cases regarding dental care provided in Spain and paid reimbursements in the amount of about €15,000.

Decrease in seeking dental care abroad

In the compared years of 2018 and 2019, the top five countries in seeking dental care abroad have remained the same. In addition to Estonia and Spain, Finnish residents seek dental care in Poland, Hungary and Latvia.

“However, the numbers of reimbursements and decisions have been decreasing for a couple of years already. In the light of the trend in the amount of reimbursements paid for dentist’s fees, it appears as if seeking dental care abroad is decreasing,” says Mira Rantakeisu, planner at the Contact Point for Cross-Border Healthcare.

“Of course, it must be remembered that the statistics only contain the cases in which customers have applied for reimbursement for the dental care they have received. It is possible that not all those who have received treatment abroad apply for reimbursement for the treatment they have received,” Rantakeisu says.