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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 another travel document as proof of identity.

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's 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. 

For information about all available healthcare services and fees, visit Choosehealthcare.fi.

TipThere is currently no central directory for health centres in Finland. Instead, each local authority has its own website, which 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.

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's 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 up to €51.40 for missed appointments.

If you're 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 €20.90 for regular visits and around €28.70 for on-call visits, such as at weekends and during holidays. 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 hammaslääkäri. 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 €150). Not all health centres maintain a 24-hour dental service.

TipIf you have a dental emergency on a weeknight or bank holiday while in Helsinki, you should visit the Haartman Hospital Dental Clinic (weeknights from 4pm to 9pm,  or weekends and bank holidays 8am to 9pm). For more information, including a list of criteria for dental emergencies, visit the City of Helsinki website.  

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 website www.choosehealthcare.fi offers contact details of public hospital districts in English, as well as 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 – €22.80-50 a day 
  • outpatient care – €41.70
  • day surgery – around €136.80, 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're 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're 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

  • You can find contact details for all healthcare providers (public, private and third-sector) in Finland on www.choosehealthcare.fi. The website also offers 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 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're moving to Finland temporarily, you're entitled to necessary medical treatment and reimbursements for treatment costs, even if you're 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 the 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.

Working in Finland

If you're planning to work in Finland, you're 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.

If you're a worker posted to Finland by a UK company, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in Finland. Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

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 at weekends and on bank holidays

For more information, see Moving abroad.

Studying in Finland

If you're going to study or currently studying in Finland as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK government. You and any dependants you may have will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Also read:

Pensioners

If you live in Finland and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form.

For exportable UK pensions and contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, you can apply for your form via the International Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions on 0191 218 7777.

You may need to liaise with a different team, depending on the exportable benefit. Further information is available under claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Once issued, register the S1 form with the relevant authority in Finland. Often you need to do this before you can register for healthcare or obtain a medical card.

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.

TipThe Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information for Britons living in Finland.

Page last reviewed: 02/11/2016

Next review due: 02/11/2019

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