It is easy to get enthusiastic about Sweden. It is an almost magically beautiful country that can be reached from the German-Danish border in only about four hours by car or by ferry in about seven hours by sea. The country is a good fifth larger than Germany, but is home to just under 10 million inhabitants. Sweden stretches 1572 kilometers from south to north.
More than 220.000 islands are part of the Swedish coast on the North Sea and Baltic Sea. In the country spread over 90.000 lakes and in northern Sweden, above the Arctic Circle, the sun either never fully rises or never fully sets for half a year at a time. Sweden is not simply geographically fantastic, however. The parliamentary kingdom (seat of government: Stockholm) is so popular with its inhabitants that it regularly ranks among the top ten of more than 150 countries in the satisfaction index compiled annually by the UN. Around 7 million tourists and business travelers find their way to Sweden in a year to spend their vacations or to do trade. It is not out of the question that someone falls ill or suffers a minor or major accident.
What is the situation with health care in Sweden??
The Swedish healthcare system is state-funded. There is only one health insurance company and, with a few exceptions, every citizen or resident of Sweden is automatically covered by health insurance. There is a consensus in Swedish politics that every patient should receive the same medical treatment. Even in the very remote and sparsely populated northern parts of the country, health centers and hospitals are built and maintained, just like in Stockholm or Malmo. The equipment, the level of medical technology and the availability of Swedish health care are among the best in the world.
The individual Swedish regions are responsible for organizing health care, with the national government setting the framework conditions. For example, the law stipulates that every patient should receive a diagnosis from his or her doctor within three days, while treatment by a specialist must be possible within 90 days. In most cases, the Swedish system actually manages to keep to these times.
Each visit to a general practitioner or specialist is subject to a flat-rate out-of-pocket fee, which varies by region. The co-payment for a visit to a Swedish dentist is particularly high – at least for adults over 23 years of age. Children and younger adults are covered by health insurance.
Going to the doctor without health insurance?
In Sweden, the health centers replace the general practitioner. Normally, therefore, symptoms of illness are visited one of these health centers, under whose roof doctors from several medical specialties unite. In Sweden, however, it is customary to seek advice and diagnosis by telephone first. For this purpose, there is a nationwide telephone number 1177. This system saves time and effort and significantly reduces the frequency of visits to the doctor, without compromising the patient's health.
If you are a tourist or business traveler from the EU and need to see a doctor, you can get the same medical treatment as a Swedish patient by presenting your European health insurance card. Without any insurance coverage, i.e. no health insurance abroad, all costs incurred must be paid in cash. This includes a flat fee per visit, which varies between 15 and 35 euros depending on the region and must be paid in advance. With an international health insurance, these costs can be recovered from the insurer.
Going to the doctor with health insurance?
The private health sector plays almost no role in Sweden due to the excellent state system. There is no preferential treatment for privately insured patients. Nevertheless, in addition to the European Health Insurance Card for the trip to Sweden, the conclusion of an additional international health insurance is recommended. The flat rate per doctor's visit alone is usually more than the insurance policy covers.
This cost is usually not reimbursed by the insurance companies in your home country, because there is no comparable flat rate in Germany, for example. However, the foreign health insurance replaces it. In addition, international health insurance usually includes the option of repatriation by means of ambulance transport, which in turn is not a service provided by German, Swiss or Austrian health insurers. Sweden is unquestionably a beautiful country, but in the case of illness almost all patients feel that their home country is more beautiful.