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Country-by-country guide

Accessing healthcare in Finland

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will allow you to access public healthcare provided in Finland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

Note: You may be asked to present your passport or other travel document as proof of identity.

Non-EEA nationals are also covered in Finland.

TipFinland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. However, most people, including medical professionals, speak English and other languages as well.

Get the EHIC smartphone app

The European Commission has developed a useful free multi-language phone app, which explains how to use the EHIC card in different countries within the EU. It summarises the treatments, costs, procedure for reimbursement and emergency numbers.

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, please see our section on seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Find help in emergencies

If you find yourself in a serious or life-threatening emergency or you need an ambulance, dial 112. Calls are free of charge from any phone, including mobile phones.

When you call emergency services in Finland, you will have to provide the following information:

  • your name
  • what has happened
  • where it has happened
  • if there are other people in danger

For more information, read the leaflet How to use emergency number 112 in Finland (PDF, 166kb).  

Other important phone numbers to note down:

  • 112 – police and fire brigade
  • 118 – telephone directory (for general information and help finding local health centres or pharmacies)
  • (0)9 736 166 – find dental services (9am to 9pm)

TipPublic healthcare services are provided by municipal health centres. Most municipals provide a 24-hour helpline if you need information about health, illnesses or healthcare services. The service is run by experienced medical professionals, such as nurses. If you are visiting Helsinki, call (0)9 310 10023. You'll be charged the local standard rate of a phone call.

 

Health services and costs

If you need medical care during your visit to Finland and it is not an emergency, you should visit the local municipal health centre (terveysasemat). Health centres provide residents with GP, dental, laboratory and radiographic services. The municipalities own and operate almost all of the hospitals. There are also a few private hospitals.

TipThere is currently no central directory for health centres in Finland. Instead, each local authority has its own website that offers information about health services, including a list of health centres in the area and patient fees. URLs for municipal websites all follow the same basic principle of www.yourcityname.fi. So for Turku, you would use www.turku.fi. Helsinki is the exception – you need to use www.hel.fi. Most of the sites are available in English.

TipFrom late 2015, information about healthcare services will be available through the Palveluvaaka website, which is run by the National Institute for Health and Wellfare. You should then be able to find contact information for all public, private and third-sector service providers. The website is only available in Finnish and Swedish.

The government social insurance agency Kela (Kansanelakelaitos) is responsible for co-ordinating the state contribution system. For more information about healthcare during a temporary stay in Finland, visit the Kela website.

If you move to Finland long term or plan to work in the country, you'll only have access to public healthcare if you are employed and paying into the healthcare insurance fund, if you're a dependant of an employed person, or if you belong to a vulnerable group. But even then you usually have to pay a patient contribution towards the cost of your treatment.

The Kela card

Once you are registered with Kela, you'll be issued the Kela card. Registration with Kela means you are covered by the Finnish social security system, including national health insurance. You must show the card whenever you need to see a doctor, when you collect your prescription from a pharmacy, and whenever you claim reimbursements. For more information, visit the Kela website (information is available in English).

TipRemember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement. 

Doctors

If it is not an emergency, you'll have to make an appointment before you can see a doctor. Make sure to inform the health centre if you cannot make an appointment as you will be charged €39.60 for missed appointments.

If you are on holiday in Finland, you'll need your EHIC card. Otherwise, make sure you have your Kela card with you. Some medical services are free of charge by law, but health centres may charge for other services. This varies from one municipality to another. 

For a visit to a doctor (including laboratory and X-ray services), you can be charged between €16.10 for regular visits and around €22.10 for on-call visits, such as at weekends and during holidays. If you are under the age of 18, treatment is free of charge. You can also contact private GPs, in which case you will have to pay the full fee upfront.

Note: Your EHIC does not cover costs incurred for private treatment unless you can prove it was clinically necessary. If you have proof, you may get a reimbursement of between 20-30 % of the cost. You need make your claim with Kela within six months after the initial payment. You cannot be refunded in the UK. Kela card holders may also be reimbursed for some of the costs. Find out more about how to get reimbursements in Finland on the Kela website.

Dentists

The Finnish word for dentists is hammaslääkär. If you need dental treatment during your stay because of illness or an accident, you should contact a local health centre. You'll have to present a valid EHIC or your Kela card to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident. Most health centres charge €10.20 for a basic visit and then charge for additional treatments according to a fixed scale of charges (usually less than €100). If you are under the age of 18, dental treatment is free of charge. It should be noted that not all health centres maintain a 24-hour dental service.

TipCall (0)9 736 166 to find dental services (9am to 9pm). You can also contact private dentists, in which case you'll have to pay the full fee upfront. If you are registered as a Finnish resident, you may be able to claim a reimbursement from Kela.  

Hospital treatment

The Finnish word for hospital is sairaala. Just like in the UK, you'll need a doctor's referral for non-emergency hospital treatment.

  • The Kunnat website provides a list of hospitals by district, including contact details.
  • From September 2015 a new website www.choosehealthcare.fi will offer contact details of the public hospital districts in English. The website will also contain other essential information about using healthcare services in Finland.

When you're admitted to hospital, you'll need to present either a valid EHIC or Kela card to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident.

Hospital fees are:

  • inpatient care – €38.10 a day (persons under 18 don't pay the daily charge for more than seven days within a calendar year) 
  • outpatient care – €32.10
  • day surgery – around €105.90 (but can be less)

If you're admitted to a private hospital, you must pay all costs but you can claim a reimbursement from Kela. However, no reimbursement is awarded in respect of the basic daily charge. Find out more in the section on how to get reimbursements in Finland on the Kela website

Prescriptions

The Finnish word for pharmacy is apteekki. You can take your Finnish-issued prescription to any pharmacy, but you'll have to pay the full price of the medicine upfront. You may be asked to show your EHIC or Kela card. Once you've paid for your prescription you will get a receipt, which can be used to get a reimbursement.

A well-known pharmacy chain is Yliopiston Apteekki, which has longer opening hours and operates on Sundays.

TipA pharmacist may ask you if you prefer the original medicine or a generic version. Generic medicines are the same as original medicines but under a different name, and are often cheaper to buy. It is entirely up to you to decide whether to buy the medication the doctor has prescribed or the generic alternative. 

Making healthcare arrangements in advance

Although your EHIC covers the provision of oxygen, renal dialysis and routine medical care, you'll have to arrange and pre-book medical treatment before you travel. You should always consult your GP or hospital before travelling. Also ensure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider, as these are not covered by the EHIC. Since July 1 2014, you can no longer be reimbursed for patient co-payments once you go back to the UK. Ensure you have a sufficient level of private insurance before travelling abroad.

Oxygen therapy

Ensure your EHIC is valid before you travel. In most cases you will have to use the authorised oxygen company for the country you are travelling to. You'll also have to make your own arrangements, including arranging for permission from your hotel to deliver and install the equipment. There may also be additional costs the EHIC will not cover.

Finding healthcare providers in Finland

  • The Kunnat website provides a list of hospitals by district, including contact details.
  • From late 2015 you can find contact details for all healthcare providers (public, private and third-sector) in Finland on www.palveluvaaka.fi (information provided in Finnish and Swedish only).
  • From September 2015 a new website www.choosehealthcare.fi will offer contact details of the public hospital districts in English. The website will also contain other essential information about using healthcare services in Finland.

Your home oxygen supplier is not required to provide a service outside the UK, but most suppliers will be able to advise you on what to do. Your oxygen treatment clinic will organise your home oxygen supply from one of these suppliers:

Air Liquide: Call them on:

  • 0808 143 9991 for London
  • 0808 143 9992 for the North West
  • 0808 143 9993 for the East Midlands
  • 0808 143 9999 for the South West

Baywater Healthcare: covers Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and Wales. Call them on 0800 373 580. For more information, visit the Baywater Healthcare website.

BOC: covers the East and North East of England. Call them on 0800 136 603.

Dolby Vivisol: covers the South of England. Call them on 0500 823 773.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) may have additional oxygen contacts for the country you are travelling to. Their website offers general advice about how to make travel arrangements, including advice on travelling abroad with a lung condition.

Ensure you allow plenty of time to make all your arrangements before you travel.

Dialysis

You will need to speak to the co-ordinator at your UK Dialysis Unit, who will contact the dialysis unit in Finland nearest to where you will be staying. You can look up UK renal units on The Renal Association website.

TipEnsure you make arrangements according to your UK schedule. There also may be different guidance depending on what type of dialysis you receive. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you travel. The National Kidney Federation website offers general advice about travelling with a kidney disease, as well as specific guidance for haemodialysis patients, peritoneal dialysis patients, and guidelines for transplant patients.

Read more advice about travelling with other conditions:

Living in Finland

If you are moving to Finland temporarily, you're entitled to necessary medical treatment and reimbursements for treatment costs, even if you are not covered by the Finnish health insurance system.

You will need a valid European Health Insurance Card issued by the UK. A valid passport issued by UK may also be accepted as long as your home address is in the UK. Treatment is provided by public healthcare providers, and you'll have to pay the same patient contributions as a permanent resident of Finland.

If you are planning to work in Finland, you are entitled to Finnish health insurance benefits even during shorter periods of employment, provided you meet the conditions regarding the terms of employment. Read about working in Finland on the Kela website for more advice.

In addition, workers and civil servants posted to Finland normally remain covered by the UK's National Insurance (NI) system. Your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • A1 – this will show that NI contributions are paid in the UK
  • S1 – this will give you and your family the same medical cover as a Finnish resident

Note: When you submit the forms make sure you mention relevant family members and dependants. 

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN
United Kingdom

  • Telephone: 0300 200 3506
  • Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010
  • Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday - closed weekends and bank holidays

Get more advice about moving abroad.

TipThe Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also provides useful information about living in Finland.

Pensioners

If you are living in Finland and you receive a UK State Pension or any other benefit that can be paid to you when you move abroad (exportable benefit), you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You'll need to apply for form S1 (a certificate of entitlement) from the International Pension Centre on 0191 218 7777. Once issued, register the S1 form with Kela before you register with your local GP surgery in Finland.

Once you have registered your S1 in Finland, you will be entitled to apply for and use a UK-issued EHIC to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EEA countries outside Finland, including when you return to the UK.

Early retirees

Since July 1 2014 you can no longer apply for a residual S1. If you already have a residual S1, this will not affect you – it will continue to be valid until its original expiry date. Find out more about the new residual S1 rules.

Comments

Page last reviewed: 03/08/2015

Next review due: 03/08/2017

EHIC changes

You will no longer be able to claim a refund in the UK for most patient co-payments for treatment received after July 1 2014

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Media last reviewed: 09/07/2015

Next review due: 09/07/2017