The healthcare system in Sweden: a detailed guide for expats



The healthcare system in Sweden: a detailed guide for expats

Sweden's public health care system is one of the best in the world, and health insurance in the country is universal, meaning that both citizens and expats have the right to use services. A detailed guide to the Swedish health care system in our material

Order an insurance policy for safe travel, stay or work abroad
Order an insurance policy for safe travel, stay or work abroad

The Swedish public health system offers excellent inpatient and outpatient care, easy access to prescription drugs, preventive services, disability support, rehabilitation services and dental care.

Swedish society also places a high value on a healthy lifestyle with a positive work-life balance. It's no wonder so many expats, from digital nomads to retirees, are eager to call Sweden home.

Everything that foreigners need to know about the health care system and health insurance in Sweden, we have collected in our guide.

Interesting facts about the healthcare system in Sweden

- Sweden has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. It ranks 23rd among 191 national health care systems, the effectiveness of which is assessed by the World Health Organization.

- Sweden is among the top 5 European countries in terms of life expectancy (79 years for men and 83 years for women).

- The country has the highest rate of doctors per capita in Europe (3.3 per 1,000 people).

- There are a total of 79 hospitals and 1,400 pharmacies in Sweden.

- Sweden has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, with less than 4 per 100,000 women and 3 per 1,000 babies dying during childbirth.

General overview of the national health insurance system in Sweden

Sweden has a universal public health care system, which is considered one of the best in the world. 97% of the system's operating costs are covered by taxes and government contributions. The remaining 3% is covered by patients who make a small co-payment during visits to the doctor:

- Supplement for a doctor's consultation - from 100 to 300 crowns (8.5-25 euros).

- Emergency medical assistance - 300 kroner (25 euros).

- Hospital stay - 120 kroner (10 euros) per day (first 10 days), 60 kroner (5 euros) per day (from day 11).

In general, the surcharge of the average citizen is 1,100 kroner (95 euros) per year. Children under the age of 16 are exempt from this payment.

Prescription drugs, while not free, are very affordable. The total amount that the patient will pay does not exceed 2,200 kroner (190 euros) per year. If the prescription bill exceeds this amount, the government pays the difference.

Advantages of the state health care system in Sweden

1. The Swedish public health care system offers an excellent set of services:

- inpatient and outpatient treatment,

- prescription drugs,

- primary medical care,

- preventive services,

- support for the disabled,

- rehabilitation services

- dental care (up to 19 years old - when braces are ordered by an orthopedist, children and their parents pay for their installation with discounts).

2. If patients cannot find a doctor or dentist who speaks their language, they have the right to free interpreter assistance.

3. Patients pay only €95 per year for medical services, with the state covering any additional costs.

Disadvantages of the Swedish health care system

1. Lack of staff – according to statistics, 71% of Swedes believe that the lack of staff is the biggest shortcoming of the Swedish healthcare system.

2. Long waiting times – 51% of Swedish citizens expressed concern about long waiting times for medical services.

3. Limited access to regular GPs – Swedes often complain that they cannot visit their GPs and have to rely on temporary doctors or nurses.

Which foreigners have the right to use the services of the Swedish health care system?

- Tourists – anyone visiting Sweden can receive medical care at any public institution. However, if you do not have travel health insurance, you will have to pay for the treatment yourself.

- Visitors from the EU or EEA are entitled to treatment on the same terms as nationals, provided they have a European Health Insurance Card or EHIC. An EHIC is available for free, but you must apply for one before you leave your country.

- Expats who permanently reside in Sweden or are in the country on the basis of a work permit are also entitled to health care services.

How can an expat register in the Swedish public health care system?

Expats and foreigners who are in Sweden legally as permanent residents or long-term visitors with a work permit are entitled to public health insurance. In order to register, you must:

1. The first step is to obtain a residence permit.

2. Second, you need to get a Swedish tax identification number, which works in the same way as a social security number in other countries.

3. After receiving these two documents, you will need to visit your local health center to register for a health insurance number and make an appointment with a doctor.

Registration in the state health insurance plan is not mandatory. However, it's a good idea to do this because it costs nothing.

You can also additionally purchase your own private health insurance to cover all your medical needs or increase the assistance received under the government program.

Private health insurance in Sweden

Private health insurance is not very common in Sweden. Only about 10% of Swedes have private healthcare, but the number of users is growing. They choose it for quick access to certain specialists and to avoid waiting in line for scheduled treatment. In addition, treatment in private hospitals and clinics means a higher level of comfort and privacy for patients.

Health insurance in Sweden is universal, and both local and permanent residents are encouraged to use the public health care system. This is because public health facilities often offer treatment for a variety of conditions and illnesses that are not limited to a single hospital.

Despite the advantage, expats and travelers are strongly advised to have private health insurance, given that public health systems only prioritize emergencies, resulting in you spending a lot of time waiting.

Igor Usyk - Head of Legal Department at Visit World

For safe relocation to Sweden, obtaining refugee status and employment, use the advice of an international lawyer.

We help to solve complex and simple issues for your comfort and safety in the Sweden.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in the Sweden;

Legal advice on immigration to the Sweden;

Travel insurance for foreigners in the Sweden;

Medical insurance all over the world.

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