Healthcare in Sweden

 

 

Sweden’s healthcare has been consistently close to the top in cross-country comparisons conducted annually by The Commonwealth Fund.

It is one of the top five nations in the world with low infant mortality at 2.75 and high life expectancy at 81. With about 5% of the population aged 80 and above, Sweden, along with Italy, has the biggest elderly population in Europe.

The healthcare system in Sweden is government-funded, 71% of which comes from local taxation. In contrast to other countries with state-run healthcare, patients in Sweden enjoy the freedom to choose their health professionals anywhere in the country. The government takes care of about 98% of the medical costs including consultation with specialists, hospitalization, and laboratory fees, care for the elderly, disabled and psychologically impaired and maternity and pediatric care.

Dental care is free for children until they reach the age of 19. Patient fees range from SEK120 (US$17.05) to SEK 200 (US$28.42); the maximum payable per year amounts to SEK 900 (US$127.88).

The county councils, as stipulated in their health and medical care policy, are tasked to provide all Swedish residents with quality services and medical care and plan and undertake projects to promote wellness. They are also involved in income tax collection, culture preservation and infrastructure building but 90% of their work is tied with healthcare.

Recent years have seen the rise of private healthcare providers. Statistics show that 10% of healthcare is funded by county councils but delivered by private practitioners.

Effective January 2010, patients can choose to seek private or public healthcare for their primary care. However, some private practitioners are not affiliated to the Swedish Social Insurance Administration (Försäkringskassa), hence, treatment fees will be more costly than the ones with ties to the system.

Sweden's population, comprised of Swedish citizens and EU/EEA/Swiss citizens alike, has access to the abovementioned health benefits. For non-European expats, it is best to invest in travel insurance with health insurance to ensure every health procedure will be covered should the need arise. Make sure to verify with the authorities if your existing health insurance policy will be honored in Sweden as, for example, Australia has a healthcare agreement with Sweden.

In comparison to the United States, the medical care cost in Sweden is almost twice the price. For citizens from EU countries with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) aged 20 and above, a consultation with a doctor or specialist will cost between SEK 100 (US$14.20) and SEK150 (US$21.30) and SEK 200 (US$28.41) to SEK 300 (US$42.62), respectively. In-patient treatments are typically free with a non-refundable fee of SEK 80 (US$11.36) per day. Outpatient treatments, on the other hand, have varied rates.

For patients aged 19 and above, seeing a dentist costs SEK 615 (US$87.36). Other dental services like fillings range from SEK 585 (US$83.10) to SEK 1,050 (US$149.15). Most dental fees are not reimbursed.

It is reassuring that, thanks to the incremental number of patients seeking healthcare in the neighboring EU countries for the past few years, Sweden is proactive in collaborating with other EU nations to improve healthcare services, patient safety and specialized care. Sweden has an excellent healthcare system and expat patients will feel at home no matter what condition they are in.

 

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