Healthcare in Finland



Finland is one of the few countries in the world where a majority of the healthcare provisions is provided by the government. Healthcare is subdivided into three sectors - all of which are publicly funded.

The Finnish health legislation focuses on preventing diseases and promoting public health. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health ensures social welfare and healthcare legislation is well implemented. The law also ensures that quality healthcare is provided to all residents of Finland, without discrimination, and irrespective of the financial situation. Employers are obliged to provide their employees with preventive healthcare. Those coming from the EU and EEA are also entitled to state-provided emergency and injury medical services on the provision of their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If healthcare is at the top of your priorities, then the decision should have been made by now; Finland it is.

The Finnish Healthcare System

The three healthcare sectors in Finland are primary health care, which can be obtained in district centres, secondary care, which is provided by the various municipalities for more specialised needs, and tertiary care, which can be acquired from the five university teaching hospitals in Finland. Primary health care's main functions are to provide guidance in health concerns and disseminate information and assistance on the prevention of diseases, organize medical examinations, manage maternity and child healthcare, and ultimately to provide dental services, provide medical treatment, as well as nursing and rehabilitation services. The responsibility for the management of all three sectors is given to the municipal governments.

There is also the private healthcare sector that comprises a small percentage of the Finnish healthcare system. It provides only three to four percent of in-patient care. Services rendered by the private sector are mostly in physiotherapy, dentistry, and occupational health care.

KELA and Finnish Health Policy

All permanent residents (Finnish or not) enjoy the full benefit of the well-developed social security and health care system of Finland. Through the government social insurance agency, called KELA (short for Kansaneläkelaitos), assistance is provided in paying for health care. Once permanent residency is established, you will be given a KELA card. This card is also needed to qualify for a maternity grant. This also provides for the reimbursement of fees you'd otherwise pay from your own pocket like doctor's fees, dental care costs, and miscellaneous treatment charges. You can also apply for sickness allowance in times of ill health during employment.

Hospitals in Finland

Finland has 20 hospital districts in which one can avail of emergency services. If your case is not considered an emergency, it would be advisable to visit a local health centre. Each hospital district has a central hospital, the largest district of which has 1.4 million inhabitants. This district has 17,600 medical personnel and 3700 hospital beds. About 1.5 million inhabitants of Finland make use of specialised medical services in these districts on an annual basis. Emergency cases are also usually referred to Finnish hospitals. Some of the most prominent hospitals in Finland are:

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