Healthcare for Visitors to Finland

Finland is one of the smaller European nations, with a population of just over 5.5 million. Budget airlines have opened up this Scandinavian nation to UK, and its stunning countryside makes it attractive to tourists as well as business travellers. It’s never wise to travel overseas without cover for medical problems, but is an EHIC enough for Finland?

Finnish state healthcare and EHIC

The state healthcare system in Finland is much bigger than the private sector, and rather than being organised nationally like the NHS, is very decentralised. In order to find your local state health centre, you will have to search online on the local council website. Some information is available in English, but having a Finnish speaker to help might make things quicker. A new website, Choosehealthcare, gives better information in English to allow visitors to compare and contrast choices for doctors and hospitals. Always keep appointments with doctors – unlike the UK, you can be fined up to 40 euros for missing an appointment. You will also be charged for every appointment with a doctor, with higher fees applying in the evening and at weekends. Fees are also charged for inpatient care in hospital, and to see a dentist. Children under the age of 18 are generally exempt from payment. All prescription medicine has to be paid for up front in the pharmacy and then later reclaimed, so always make sure you get a detailed receipt when picking up medication.

Applications for refunds have to be made in Finland and not through the NHS by completing the form on the back of any invoice which you are given and sending it to the state health provider along with your bank details and copy of your EHIC card and passport. Healthcare provision in Finland is very high quality and many of the nurses and doctors will speak fluent English.

Private medicine and travel insurance in Finland

The private sector makes up only 3% of the Finnish healthcare system, but if you have travel insurance you might be able to access a private hospital if your insurer agrees. Accessing the private sector might mean you can be seen more quickly, or at a time which is more convenient to you. Outside of the main cities though, you might have to travel a considerable distance to the nearest private facility.

Always make sure you know which type of hospital you are being taken to, and check that your insurer will meet the cost before going ahead. Having travel insurance may also cover the additional costs for seeing doctors and being admitted to hospital which are not covered under the EHIC arrangements. Keep copies of all bills, invoices and receipts for payment. There are additional benefits to having your own travel insurance, which might cover extra travel costs to get you home from Finland if you have to change flights due to illness, or which could meet the cost of an air ambulance home if you fall very ill.