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Country-by-country guide

Accessing healthcare in Sweden

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 enable you to access public healthcare provided in Sweden at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover you for treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers you for the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, providing the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

If you don't have your EHIC with you or you've lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

Get the EHIC smartphone app

The European Commission has developed a useful multi-language free 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 about seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Find help in emergencies

In case you find yourself in an emergency during your stay in Sweden, dial 112. Emergency services are not always free of charge. Some counties charge a fee for ambulance services or helicopter transportation. A visit to an A&E department can cost between SEK 220 – SEK 400. You will be charged on the same basis as a Swedish resident and this is not refundable in the UK. Ensure you have a valid EHIC to prove your entitlement to emergency care at the ordinary fee, otherwise you will have to pay for the entire cost of your care.

Another important number to note down is 1177. This provides non-emergency health advice similar to NHS 111. Find out more on the 1177 Vårdguiden website.

Health services and costs

The responsibility for the provision of healthcare is shared by central government, the county councils and the municipalities, and is mainly funded through taxation. However, patients in Sweden are expected to pay patient contributions towards the cost of their care. Fees may vary depending on the county or municipality you are residing in. For information about healthcare providers in your area and associated costs visit the 1177 Vårdguiden website (this information is available in English).

Your EHIC does not cover private treatment. Ensure you are treated by a healthcare provider affiliated to the public healthcare scheme. You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.

You can search for local healthcare providers on the 1177Vårdguiden website. However this information is only available in Swedish.

Doctors

Ensure you have a valid EHIC card. A doctor’s appointment is generally charged between SEK 100 and SEK 300. You will be charged on the same basis as a Swedish resident.

The fee for an appointment with a gynaecologist or paediatrician is SEK 200-350. If you are referred for an X-ray or a similar examination this should not come under additional costs.

Dental costs

Residents in Sweden are entitled to subsidised dental care from the age of 20 (care is free of charge to under 20s). There are three different kinds of subsidies:

  • a general subsidy for all residents for preventive dental care
  • a special subsidy if you have an illness or disability that increases your need for dental care
  • a high-cost protection for major dental work

The size of the general subsidy depends on age:

  • your annual subsidy is SEK 300 (£27) until the year you turn 29
  • your annual subsidy is SEK 150 (£13) from the year you turn 30 until the year you turn 74
  • your annual subsidy is SEK 300 (£27) starting the year you turn 75

The Försäkringskassan (Swedish Social Insurance Agency) will pay the subsidy directly to the dentist.

For high cost dental work, you will have to pay up to the first SEK 3,000 (£272) for the work. You can then receive compensation of 50% of the charges for between SEK 3,000 and SEK 15,000 (£1,364) and 85% of the charges above SEK 15,000.

The Försäkringskassan offers English-language leaflets giving more information about dental care and charges in Sweden for residents, and foreign students.

Hospital treatment

Just like in the UK, you'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment. Make sure you are referred to a public hospital, as only these provide subsidised treatment.

If you are referred to see a specialist then this will be charged between SEK 150 and SEK 350.

If you are admitted as an inpatient your treatment is generally free. However, you’ll have to pay a daily standard charge of maximum SEK 100. This fee is not refundable.

A patient fee is also charged for outpatient treatment and the costs are not refundable.

Prescriptions

Prescription charges may vary. Many medicines that are available over the counter in the UK are only available on prescription in Sweden. Please note that medicines (prescription and non-prescription) can only be purchased at authorised chemists (Apoteket). 
However, commonly used painkillers and other less riskful medicines can be bought in many grocery stores.

Pharmaceutical Advice Tel: 0771-450 450.

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 that 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 can 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 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 travelling abroad with a lung condition.

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 Sweden nearest to where you will be staying. You can look up UK renal units on The Renal Association website.

Ensure you make arrangements according to your UK schedule. There 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 Sweden

If you move to Sweden long-term then you should register with the local authorities. The Swedish Tax Agency provides information in English about what is required to register as a permanent resident in Sweden.

Tip

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information about Living in Sweden.

If you are a worker seconded to Sweden or the family member of someone making UK National Insurance contributions, your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • A1 – this will show that National Insurance contributions are paid in the UK
  • S1 (previously E106 or E109) – this will give you and your family the same medical cover as residents of Sweden

Note: Ensure when you submit the forms that 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

For more information, visit the Moving abroad section.

Once issued, register the S1 form with the authorities in Sweden before you register with your local GP surgery.

Pensioners

If you are living in Sweden 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 the authorities in Sweden before you register with your local GP surgery

Once you have registered your S1 in Sweden, 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 Sweden, including when you return to the UK.

Early retirees

Since July 1 2014, you are no longer able to apply for a 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. Read more about the new rules.

Page last reviewed: 03/03/2015

Next review due: 03/03/2017

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