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.
There 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.
From 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).
Remember 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.
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.
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.
Call (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.
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.
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.
A 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.