Human Entrance

Accessing Swedish Healthcare

9 April 2021
Accessing Swedish Healthcare

In Sweden, the healthcare system is decentralized, meaning it is run either regionally or through local authorities and municipalities. Healthcare resources are also managed locally and the types of services available in a particular region or area may therefore vary.

Healthcare services are categorized as either public or private. It is becoming more common for regional and local authorities to buy services from private healthcare providers and an increasing percentage of Swedish healthcare is being financed by regional municipalities, while delivered by private providers.
An agreement guarantees patients are covered by the same regulations and fees that apply to municipal care facilities.

Some private healthcare providers are not contracted with the National Healthcare Services.
These providers charge patients in full for medical treatment, which is why our recommendation is to always ask whether a provider is contracted or not.

Primary Care
Primary care services include general physicians offering medical examinations, care and treatment of common conditions and illnesses. As needed, a primary physician will refer patients to specialists for further care and examinations. Medical care is also offered by specialist nurses, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists. There are also many digital healthcare solutions, such as patient–doctor apps.

Specialist Care
You do not need a referral from a primary physican before contacting a specialist, but without one, patients may face higher cost and longer waiting time. Healthcare providers are not required to take on new patients without a referral.

Waiting times for pre-planned care, such as cataract or hip-replacement surgery, have long been a cause of dissatisfaction. As a result, Sweden introduced a healthcare guarantee in 2005.

This means all patients should be able to get a medical assessment within three days of contacting their primary physician. Following this assessment, no patient should have to wait more than 90 days to see a specialist, and no more than 90 days for an operation or treatment, once a diagnosis and course of action has been determined. If the waiting time is exceeded, patients are offered care elsewhere with no extra costs, including travel.

Patient Fees
Patient fees are regulated regionally and vary throughout the country. Some visits are generally free of charge, such as pediatric care, maternity services and screenings. There is a out-of-pocket maximum of 1150 SEK on patient fees, during a 12 month period. Once you have paid 1150 SEK, you do not pay any further patient fees for the remainder of the 12-month qualifying period.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you are registered with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, you can order a free European Health Insurance card (EHIC) on their website. The card entitles you to healthcare while you are travelling within EU/EEA or Switzerland. You only pay the local patient fees applicable for the country you are in.

The European Health Insurance Card is limited to public healthcare, and only covers care which considered to be emergency and urgent care. It is important to note that the EHIC not an alternative to travel insurance.It does not cover any private healthcare, return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property.

We welcome you to  contact us if you have any questions regarding the Swedish healthcare system.

Thank you!

Your Human Entrance Team