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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.

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-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 Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen or Vantaa, call (0)9 10 023. 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 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 Helsinki, you would use www.helsinki.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. You can also visit the KELA website for more information about healthcare in Finland.

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 are 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 as a qualifying citizen, you'll be issued the KELA card. 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 emeregncy, 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 €33.90 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 €13.80 for regular visits and around €18.90 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 up front.

Note: Your EHIC does not cover costs incurred for private treatment, meaning these costs generally cannot be refunded in the UK. KELA may reimburse you for some of the costs, but only if you are a KELA card holder. Visit the section on How to get reimbursements in Finland on the KELA website.

Dentists

Dentists are called hammaslääkärit in Finland. 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 €9.60 for a basic visit and then charge for additional treatments according to a fixed scale of charges (usually less than €80). 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.

• Tip: call (0)9 736 166 – find dental services (9am-9pm)

You can also contact private dentists, in which case you'll have to pay the full fee up front. If you are registered as a Finnish resident, you may be able to claim a reimbursement from KELA.  

Hospital treatment

Hospitals are called sairaalat in Finland. Just like in the UK, you'll need a doctor's referral for non-emergency hospital treatment.

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 – €32.60 per day (persons under 18 don't pay the daily charge for more than seven days within a calendar year) 

• outpatient care – €27.50

• day surgery – around €90.30 (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 How to get reimbursements in Finland on the KELA website

Prescriptions

Pharmacies are called apteekit in Finnish. You can take your prescription to any pharmacy, but you'll have to pay the full price of the medicine up front. 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 obtain a reimbursement.

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

Tip: 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. 

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.

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 that the EHIC will not cover.

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

Air Liquid: Call them on:

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

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

Dialysis

You will need to speak to the co-ordinator in 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 and/or working in Finland

If you are moving to Finland temporarily, you are 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. 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 the section on 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 system. Your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • E101 – this will show that tax and NI contributions are paid in the UK
  • E106 – this will give you and your family the same medical cover as a Finnish resident

HMRC
Charity, Assets and Residence
Room BP1301
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

However, you'll also need a UK-issued EHIC to gain access to medical treatment in Finland.

If you receive a UK state retirement pension or long-term incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to state-funded healthcare paid for by the UK. You'll need to apply for form E121 (a certificate of entitlements) with the International Pension Centre. Telephone +44 (0)191 218 7777 or textphone: +44 (0)191 218 7280 Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm.

Once you have registered your E121 with the Finnish KELA, you'll be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC, allowing you to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EEA countries besides the one in which you are resident, including when you return to the UK.

Early retirees

From July 1 2014 you are no longer able to apply for residual S1 form.
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 rules.

If you go to Finland for the specific purpose of obtaining medical treatment, you must have an E112 or S2 form issued by NHS England.

For more information, see Seeking medical treatment in Europe

Comments

Page last reviewed: 17/07/2013

Next review due: 17/07/2015

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: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015