5 Things You Must Know About Healthcare in Finland

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Riin Rehemaa
Social Media & Community Manager

Are you someone starting a new adventure, passing through, or on vacation? Whatever the answer, we warmly welcome you to Finland.

When we visit a new place, we think of all the exciting times ahead. But we get there and things don’t go according to plan.

We get sick, or we have an accident — or even worse, everything is perfect and then disaster strikes, your kid picks up a disease or falls ill. Suddenly, we’re dealing with something scary in a place we know nothing about.

We’ve put together this article on 5 things you need to know about healthcare in Finland when you’re here as a foreigner.

What Kind of Healthcare Can You Get in Finland?

The Finnish healthcare system offers both public and private healthcare services, each with its own set of benefits and considerations. This article will explore the two healthcare systems available in Finland and how they cater to expatriates’ healthcare needs.

Public Healthcare

The cornerstone of Finland’s healthcare system is its public healthcare services, accessible to residents through the Finnish National Health Insurance (FNHI). Expats with valid residence permits and registered with local authorities are entitled to these services. Here’s what you need to know about Finland’s public healthcare system:

  1. Finnish National Health Insurance (FNHI): People employed and contributing to the Finnish social security system are automatically covered under the FNHI. This coverage ensures access to a wide range of medical services, including doctor appointments, hospital care, preventive measures, and prescription medications.
  2. European Health Insurance Card (EHIC): If you are visiting Finland from another EU or EEA country, you can receive necessary medical treatment under your home country’s EHIC. This card grants you access to essential healthcare services during your stay in Finland.
  3. Comprehensive Coverage: Finland’s public healthcare system is known for its comprehensive coverage, providing care for a wide array of medical needs. Regular check-ups, specialist consultations, and emergency treatments are all part of the services provided.

Private Healthcare

For those who seek more personalized care and shorter waiting times, private healthcare is a viable option in Finland. You can access private healthcare through various means:

  1. Private Health Insurance: Expats can opt for private health insurance plans, often provided by insurance companies. These plans offer additional coverage beyond the public healthcare system, including access to private clinics and expedited appointments.
  2. Private Clinics: Private healthcare clinics are scattered across Finland and offer a range of medical services. While they may come at a higher cost compared to public healthcare, private clinics offer shorter waiting times, individualized attention, and often a more comfortable environment.
  3. Telehealthcare Providers: Similar to the global trend, Finland also offers digital healthcare services. Platforms like Salu provide remote medical consultations and advice, making healthcare accessible from the comfort of your home.

How to Find Doctors Who Speak Your Language?

While many healthcare professionals in Finland are proficient in English and other languages, they are not required to speak multiple languages. Finding doctors who can communicate with you in your preferred language, especially if it’s not Finnish or Swedish, may require some effort. Here are some strategies to help you find doctors who speak your language:

  1. Online Expat Communities and Forums: Social media groups are excellent resources for getting recommendations from fellow expats. Websites like Expat Finland, InterNations, and various Facebook groups specific to expats in Finland can be valuable places to seek advice on finding doctors who are proficient in your language.
  2. Embassy Resources: Check with your country’s embassy or consulate in Finland. Many embassies maintain lists of medical professionals who are known to speak various languages, and they can provide you with reliable recommendations.
  3. International Clinics and Hospitals: Larger cities in Finland, such as Helsinki, often have international clinics or hospitals that cater to expatriates. These facilities are more likely to have healthcare professionals who are well-versed in multiple languages to accommodate the diverse patient population.
  4. Telehealthcare Services: Utilize digital healthcare providers like Salu, which offer medical consultations with professionals who can communicate with you in your preferred language. These platforms provide access to medical advice from the comfort of your own home, ensuring convenient and language-friendly healthcare.
  5. Contact Healthcare Facilities: Contact healthcare facilities directly and inquire about doctors who speak your language. While this approach may require more effort, it can be effective in finding professionals who can communicate with you effectively.
  6. Language Schools and Cultural Centers: Language schools and cultural centers often have connections within the expat community. They might be able to provide you with information about doctors who speak your language or offer guidance on how to find suitable medical professionals.

If you need to deal with Finnish authorities and you do not speak Finnish or Swedish and have no other common language with the authority, you are sometimes entitled to interpreting services. In these cases, the authorities will book you an interpreter and pay for the services.

Where to Find Hospitals in Finland?

When it comes to your health, having easy access to hospitals is crucial, especially in times of medical emergencies. To ensure you’re prepared, here’s a list of hospitals in Finland, particularly in major cities like Helsinki. Having this information on hand can provide you with peace of mind and a clear plan should you ever need medical attention:

  1. Helsinki University Hospital (HUS): One of the largest hospital districts in Finland, HUS comprises several hospitals and clinics, including:
  • Meilahti Hospital
  • Töölö Hospital
  • Haartman Hospital
  • Women’s Hospital
  • Children’s Hospital
  1. Malmi Hospital: Another HUS-affiliated hospital, Malmi Hospital, serves patients in the northern part of Helsinki.
  2. Jorvi Hospital: Located in Espoo, adjacent to Helsinki, Jorvi Hospital is a major medical center within HUS.
  3. Peijas Hospital: Situated in Vantaa, Peijas Hospital is known for its comprehensive healthcare services and modern facilities.
  4. Tampere University Hospital (Tays): Located in Tampere, Tays is a significant medical institution in Finland’s second-largest city.
  5. Turku University Hospital: This hospital serves the Turku region and is a significant healthcare provider in southwestern Finland.
  6. Oulu University Hospital: Situated in Oulu, this hospital provides vital healthcare services to residents of northern Finland.
  7. Kuopio University Hospital: Located in Kuopio, this hospital plays a crucial role in offering medical services to the eastern part of the country.
  8. Vaasa Central Hospital: Serving the Vaasa region, this hospital is essential for healthcare services on the western coast.

Emergency Rooms (ERs) in Finland:

If you ever find yourself in a medical emergency situation, here’s a list of emergency rooms (ERs) in Finland, including some major cities:

  1. Helsinki and Uusimaa Region:
  • HUS Emergency Medicine, Meilahti
  • HUS Emergency Medicine, Töölö
  • HUS Emergency Medicine, Jorvi
  • HUS Emergency Medicine, Peijas
  1. Tampere and Pirkanmaa Region:
  • Tays Emergency Medicine
  1. Turku and Southwest Finland Region:
  • Turku University Hospital Emergency Medicine
  1. Oulu and Northern Finland Region:
  • Oulu University Hospital Emergency Medicine
  1. Kuopio and Northern Savonia Region:
  • Kuopio University Hospital Emergency Medicine

Remember that this list is not exhaustive and focuses on larger cities and regions. Smaller towns and rural areas also have their healthcare facilities and ERs, ensuring residents can access medical care when needed. Familiarizing yourself with the healthcare options available in Finland will help you make informed decisions about your health and well-being during your stay in the country.

How to Get a Prescription in Finland?

Obtaining a prescription for medication in Finland is a straightforward process that reflects the country’s efficient healthcare system. Here’s a detailed guide on how to get a prescription:

Begin by scheduling an appointment with a doctor. This can be done at a public healthcare center or a private clinic, depending on your access to the Finnish healthcare system. You can also do it online from the comfort of your home when using Salu.

After your consultation, if the doctor deems medication necessary, they will issue a digital prescription. This prescription is stored electronically in the National Prescription Center’s database.

To receive your medication, bring your valid identification to a pharmacy. Upon arriving at the pharmacy, present your identification to the pharmacist. They will access your prescription from the National Prescription Center’s database.

The pharmacist will provide you with the prescribed medication, ensuring a seamless process that minimizes waiting time.

If you’re abroad and require a prescription refill, have your passport handy. Some countries might not accept a driver’s license as valid identification for prescription purposes. In situations where you need a prescription while abroad, services like Salu can connect you with a remote medical professional who can issue a prescription.

What to Do if You Can’t Find a Doctor?

While Finland’s healthcare system is generally well-regarded, there might be instances when finding a doctor can be challenging, especially if you’re an expat or there’s a shortage of doctors in your region. The Finnish healthcare system is primarily funded and provided by the state, but accessing it might require meeting specific criteria. Here’s what you can do if you’re struggling to find a doctor:

  1. Accessing the State Healthcare System: To access the state-funded healthcare system, you typically need to fulfill certain criteria, such as being employed with a contract for at least one month or being a permanent/temporary resident contributing to voluntary insurance premiums. However, even if you meet these criteria, there could still be a shortage of available doctors, particularly those who are proficient in languages other than Finnish and Swedish.
  2. Embrace Telehealthcare Services: If you’re facing difficulties in finding a doctor or dealing with inconveniences like appointment scheduling and waiting times, consider embracing telehealthcare providers. These services offer online consultations with medical professionals, allowing you to address health concerns from the comfort of your own space.

Look for telehealthcare providers in Finland, such as Salu. These platforms connect you with a network of qualified medical professionals who are available for online consultations. Salu, for example, provides access to medical professionals who speak English, Russian, and Finnish. You can get answers to health-related queries, obtain prescriptions, sick leave, vaccinations, and more.

Salu also offers the flexibility of both online and in-person consultations, catering to your needs. Beyond consultations, we can provide a range of services, including organizing health-related documentation, lab tests, and analysis. This comprehensive approach ensures you receive the necessary medical support efficiently.

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