In this post I will write a bit about how the health care system in Sweden works. I will also give examples of how much it can cost to visit a doctor at a local health care clinic or hospital emergency room, buy medicine and other health care related costs.
Our local health care clinic, pharmacy and dental care clinic here in Lyckeby in Sweden.
Now the health care services in Sweden are mostly funded by county and local community taxes. So the fee we pay, for example, for a doctor's appointment is just a small part of what it actually costs. Each county in Sweden decides what fees to charge for the health care services it offers. But overall, most fees are quite similar in the different counties. The fees are also the same at the county's own health care clinics as they are at private clinics of which the county has an agreement with.
Furthermore, most counties offer free health care to children and adolescents up to their 19th birthday. But again, each county decides which age limit should apply for free health care in it. For example, in Örebro county the age limit for free health care is 25 years old, whereas in Stockholm county the age limit is 18. Örebro county also offers free contraceptives for everyone up to 25 years old.
Some other health care services that are always free, no matter where you live in Sweden or how old you are, are school health services and vaccinations offered at schools. Prenatal care and visits to maternity and child health care clinics are also free. As are health care and medication needed for treatment for a so-called public health hazard according to the Communicable Disease Act.
Examples Of Patient Fees For Adults In Sweden 2012
There are of course patient fees for most health care related visits and treatments in Sweden when you are an adult though. So below are some examples of how much it can cost for an adult to visit a doctor at a local health care clinic or emergency room at a hospital. The fees below apply for each county's own clinics and private clinics of which the county has an agreement with. Entirely private health care clinics may have different fees.
Prices are listed in Swedish Kronas, SEK, and US Dollars, USD.
Currency today: 1 USD = 7.1 SEK
- A doctor's appointment at a health care clinic costs about 150 - 250 SEK or21 - 35 USD.
- A visit to a hospital emergency room costs about 200 - 380 SEK or28 - 53 USD.
- Admission to a hospital costs a maximum of 80 SEK or11 USD per treatment day.
- Some counties charge a fee for transportation by ambulance or helicopter, whereas it is free in others.
- Mammography for early detection of breast cancer and smear examination of the cervix, a so called gynecological health control, can cost up to 200 SEK or 28 USD. But if you live in Stockholm for example, mammography is free if you have been called from the county for a check up.
- Some health care clinics reimburse the visit fee if you have had to wait a more than a certain amount of time from when you had your appointment. In Stockholm for example, the limit is 30 minutes.
High-Cost Protection And Free Pass
Although some health care is free, medicine prescribed during these visits are not. However, there is a limit for how much you will have to pay for prescribed medicine, health care, medical travels and technological tools per each twelve month period in Sweden. This is called the high-cost protection. Also here each county decides its ceiling costs, but they are roughly the same in all counties.
- For example, the high-cost protection for health care, medical care and some dental care is roughly 1100 SEK or154 USD per twelve month period. Which means that if your first doctor's appointment was on May 1st, 2012, and you reach 1100 SEK in medical care costs by September 1st, 2012, you will not have to pay for any more medical visits until after May 1st, 2013. You get a so called free pass for the rest of that twelve month period. This principal also apply to the other high-cost protection areas.
- The high-cost protection for medicine prescribed by doctors, nurses or other authorized health care personnel is roughly 2 200 SEK or308 USD per twelve month period. (Non prescription medicine is not included in high-cost protection.)
- The high-cost protection for medical travels is roughly 1400 SEK or196 USD per twelve month period. (Medical travels means trips between your home and a caregiver, such as physician, physiotherapist, dentist or counselor. All medical travel is based on a medical assessment. The health care provider decides if you qualify for medical travel.)
- The high-cost protection for technological tools is roughly 2000 SEK or280 USD.
Even though you cannot add medical care costs and prescription medicine costs under one high-cost protection area, children and adolescents who are under 18 years old and belong to the same family share high-cost protection. This means that the fees for all children in the family are counted under the same high-cost protection area. For example, if a family has three children and two have needed prescribed medicine where the cost adds up to more than 2000 SEK or 280 USD within a twelve month period, all three children will receive free prescribed medicine for the rest of that twelve month period.
Health Care For Foreign Citizens While Visiting Sweden
So I have written a bit about how the health care system works if you are a Swedish citizen, but of course foreign citizens are also entitled to emergency care in Sweden. However, not the same rules apply.
Although, if you come from another EU/EEA country and have a European Health Card, you pay the same fee for emergency and necessary care as citizens registered in the county you are visiting. Without a European Health Card, you pay the entire cost yourself. For instance, a visit to a doctor at a local health care center will cost about 1700 SEK or238 USD and a visit to an emergency room at a hospital will cost about 2100 SEK or294 USD in Sweden.
Also, Sweden has an agreement, a convention, with a number of countries and provinces outside the EU. So depending on which country and region you come from, different rules apply. Read more about which rules apply to you at -->vardguiden.
Now there are of course many more aspects to how the health care system in Sweden works, but my intention with this post was to give a rough idea of its basics. However, I feel that I should also mention that even though our health care system and patient fees are pretty affordable here in Sweden, there are constant discussions and debates regarding how well the Swedish health care system actually care for its patients. But that is an entirely different post. Either way, I do indeed appreciate the health care system we have here in Sweden - even though it might not be a perfect.