Your guide to health insurance in Sweden
Moving to Sweden? You’d want to learn about their healthcare system before settling down there. Sweden is famous for providing stellar social benefits to its citizens. But, what about an expat like yourself? Here, we will give an overview of what the Swedish healthcare system is like, and how expats can access the medical facilities there.
You can also find our guides to other European countries here.
Home to one of the best healthcare systems in the world, Sweden is very big on healthcare. While the healthcare system is funded through taxation, the state pays for the bulk of healthcare costs. Residents only need to pay a small price when they use public medical facilities. In this section, we will go over how the Swedish healthcare system works.
All 21 county councils are in charge of primary and hospital care in Sweden. In fact, the Health and Medical Service Act mandates that every county council must provide its citizens with quality health services and medical care.
You will notice huge differences in healthcare services between counties, as county councils have considerable leeway deciding how care should be planned and delivered.
Private medical facilities
You’ll most likely have trouble finding private medical facilities here. Sweden aims to eliminate profit-seeking in the public health sector. Almost all of these private institutions work under contract for city councils. Their prices and the level of service are also regulated by the city councils.
Keep in mind that you won’t be reimbursed if you visit private healthcare providers not under an existing agreement with county councils!
Cost of healthcare
85% of the total health budget comes from public funding. In fact, the Swedish government takes a whopping half of their workers’ paychecks. In return, these workers have access to a comprehensive healthcare system and high pensions when they retire.
It’s important to note that the Swedish healthcare system has a high-cost ceiling. No patient has to pay more than a total of SEK 1,150 a year before the universal healthcare kicks in, and the government starts paying for their expenses. Prescriptions drugs are not free, but they are capped at SEK 2,350 per year. After that, the state pays for you.
Here is a list of what you can expect to pay if you are under Sweden’s universal healthcare system:
- Hospital stay: Maximum SEK 100 per day
- Primary care: Up to SEK 300, depending on your county council
- Specialist or emergency visits: Maximum SEK 400
Taking care of the sick and elderly
A patient is paid a percentage of their daily wage the day after their general physician gives them a doctor’s notice. Your employer is required to pay your wage for the first two weeks of your sick leave. After that, the state will take over and pay your wage until you are fit to work again.
The National Guaranteed Access to Healthcare or the Vårdgaranti sets the standard for all public healthcare services in Sweden. In an overburdened system, this ensures that all patients are treated in a timely, efficient manner.
Here is what the policy promises you in a series of numbers:
- 0 days: Your primary care service provider will arrange a doctor’s appointment for you on the same day you call in.
- 7 days: You will see your doctor within seven days.
- 90 days: You will get a specialist’s appointment booked within this period.
- 90 days: You will get your approved treatment 90 days from the decision date.
Emergency cases are, of course, prioritized and treated immediately.
These social benefits look great for a Swedish citizen national, but what about for an expat? In this section, we will go over your healthcare insurance options.
You have access to the same level of care afforded for nationals here if you have a residency permit. Simply get a personal identification number from your local tax office, and you are good to go!
Are you a short-term visitor to Sweden? You won’t be able to obtain a residency visa. However, we would still recommend securing a travel insurance plan in case accidents happen while you are in Sweden.
If you have an EHIC, emergency services are free, but you have to pay a subsidized fee for all other treatments. You will also want to bring any necessary prescriptions with you on your visit. Note that in Sweden, many freely-available medications back in your country are only available with a prescription. This can be incredibly costly if you need to buy from a local pharmacy.
Private healthcare insurance
Some locals and expats still opt for private healthcare since waiting times can be long. It is one of the major criticisms of the Swedish healthcare system. Both private and public medical facilities are similarly high in quality, but you can be sure to get your treatment sooner at a private institution.
Usually, private insurance is provided by your employer. However, if you are not working in Sweden or prefer a private international healthcare insurance plan - we’ve got you covered!
Pacific Prime has over two decades of experience as brokers in the insurance industry. We are committed to finding the perfect health insurance plan to suit your budget and needs. Most importantly, our highly-trained experts provide free quotations, leverage our close partnerships with all major insurers, and have an extensive portfolio that consists of all the best plans. Contact us today so we can help!