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One of Europe’s most unique destinations, Finland is a popular destination for tourists, as well as an attractive choice for work and long-term living. In part because of Finland’s unique language, it’s essential to be informed and knowledgeable about how to gain access to the healthcare you need when you need it.
The level of difference between UK NHS healthcare and the healthcare available in Finland may vary, so understanding those changes is vital to receiving the right care if it is required. The first thing to note about any country outside the UK, including Finland, is that attention that you receive free under the NHS may carry additional costs in other locations.
Finland is the home of Lapland, which is well known for Santa Clause holiday trips, and for children to receive a letter from santa over the christmas holiday season too.
Bills or additional costs of treatment may take the form of a patient contribution, which is placed towards the specific costs of your care and treatment as a whole. These costs may include anything from emergency medical care to routine doctor visits or dental care, or any other form of healthcare or support during your time in Finland.
Healthcare for tourists and visitors travelling to Finland
If you are travelling or staying in Finland and are in a life-threatening accident or emergency, to call for an ambulance, you will need to dial 112. As with the UK’s 999 services, this number has no charge for use from any phone, either mobile or landline.
The information requirements of the Finland emergency service are the same as those required within the UK, and you may need to provide the following insights:
- Your full name and potentially your date of birth
- Information on the accident or emergency that has occured
- The location of the emergency
- Whether yourself or others are in immediate danger
Further information is provided in the PDF provided by the Emergency Response Centre Administration, into how to best use 112 if you are in Finland as a visitor, travelling or otherwise.
Other important numbers you may need during your time in Finland during an emergency or as a result of an accident are the following:
- 112 for access to police services and the fire brigade
- 118 for the Finland general information directory, which will help you find nearby health services or local pharmacies
- (0)9 736 166 for finding local dental services between 9am and 9pm
In Finland, municipal health centres provide state healthcare services. The majority of these centres offer a 24-hour support line allowing you to get information about illnesses, general services or health concerns. These services are run around the clock by trained medical professionals, generally nurses. In Helsinki, the local municipal service is under (0)9 310 10023.
Healthcare in Finland before the UK leaves the EU
For anyone requiring any form of critical medical support or care, emergency medical services are provided as standard. For individuals travelling to Finland without an EHIC, you will likely be charged in full for that care. It’s crucial to acquire sufficient travel insurance as well as having money set aside to cover the funding of any medical care you may need. Ensure you keep hold of any paperwork or receipts should you receive any form of medical care, as your insurance may require these to apply for a refund.
The EHIC, or European Health Insurance Card, currently covers all healthcare provided by the state in Finland. This results in a price reduction, and sometimes free care, for temporary visitors. For services where you are asked to pay a cost upfront, it’s unlikely that this service is under the system of health provided by the state.
EHIC covers some costs, but does not include any of the following:
- Private medical treatment
- Travel to return to the UK
- Mountain or land rescue services
- Travel via cruise
To prevent additional private healthcare costs, ensure any treatment you receive is by a healthcare service in the state system. Be wary of arrangements made by hotels or travel partners, as they may be private – and are non-refundable if they are.
It’s essential that you ensure a healthcare provider treats you in the state system as you won’t be covered for private healthcare.
About the provisional replacement certificate
The PRC is a certification that shows an individual’s entitlement to EHIC. If you don’t have your EHIC on your person when you require healthcare, the Overseas Healthcare Service can provide you with a PRC to avoid direct charges for your care.
To contact the Overseas Healthcare Services, call 0191 218 1999 from within the UK, or: +44 191 218 1999 if you are abroad. The service is open from Monday to Friday and from 8 am to 6 pm in GMT.
Individuals travelling for pre-existing health concerns
For individuals who are travelling to Finland who have pre-existing medical conditions, the best option is to purchase the right travel insurance before making the trip. Your insurance company must be aware of existing medical concerns to ensure your cover is correct. EHIC holders will have valid cover until the UK leaves the EU.
Pre-existing conditions that require ongoing treatment, even while abroad, should be discussed with your specialist or GP. It’s vital that you take with you documentation about the medication or treatment you require when travelling to Finland.
In Finnish, the word for dentists is hammaslääkäri. Should you require any dental care or treatment while visiting Finland, whether due to accident or injury, your first option should be contacting the local health service. To receive healthcare at the same cost as a Finland resident, you will need to present your valid EHIC or a Kela card.
In most cases, health centres will charge €10.20 for a visit, and then charge additional costs for treatments, similarly to the dental service provided by the NHS. These fixed scales are usually less than €150 at the top end. It’s worth noting that not every health centre offers 24-hour dental services.
Should you require emergency dental care on a bank holiday or weeknight while staying in Helsinki, the Haartmen Hospital Dental Clinic should be the first location to visit. This centre is open weeknights 4pm-9pm, as well as bank holidays from 8am-9pm. The City of Helsinki website includes further information about the criteria for a dental emergency.
In Finnish, the word for hospital is sairaala. As in the UK, a doctor’s referral will be required to attend a hospital for non-emergency care or treatment. Choosing Healthcare in Finland provides additional information on their website, including contact details for local public hospital districts in English. Other essential information is also listed there.
If you are admitted to a hospital in Finland, you will be required to present a valid EHIC to receive care at the same cost as a Finnish resident.
Standard hospital fees are as follows:
- For inpatient treatment: €22.80-€50 a day
- For outpatient support: €41.70
For day surgical care – approximately €136.80, but this may be less
In Finnish, the word for pharmacy is apteekki. A prescription issued in Finland can be taken to any pharmacy for medication. However, you will be required to pay for the full cost of the medicine and may need to show your EHIC also.
One of Finland’s most well-known pharmacy chains is Yliopiston Apteekki, which has more commercial opening hours and also operates on Sundays, unlike smaller services.
When dispensing your prescription, the pharmacist may ask if you would prefer the generic version of a medication. As in the UK, these generic medicines offer the same ingredients under a different name and often come with a reduced price. There is no difference between generic and branded medication, and you are free to decide which you would prefer.
Bringing your own medicines to Finland
For some prescribed medications, drugs may be contained within their ingredients that are controlled under UK legislation. This Misuse of Drugs legislation may mean certain medications have other legal control applied to them. As such, to take controlled substances abroad as part of your drugs, a personal licence may be required.
The GOV.UK website offers additional guidance on the proper way to travel with controlled medication, including how to carry the medicines and what information you must take with you when you go abroad.
Differences in healthcare when the UK leaves the EU
Should the UK leave the EU without a deal in place, the way you access healthcare in Finland may change. If you have plans to visit Finland once the UK has left the EU, it’s vital that you continue purchasing appropriate travel insurance to ensure you can access the healthcare you need. These measures are already required for travellers visiting non-EU destinations. If you are currently using an EHIC, this will remain valid until the time that the UK leaves the EU.
Healthcare for individuals working in Finland
Healthcare for workers in Finland until the UK leaves the EU
Individuals living and working within Finland from the UK will be issued with a Kela card, which offers access to a variety of social security services including but not limited to healthcare. This provides the same standard or care as citizens of Finland.
Workers posted to Finland from a UK-based company could also be entitled to funded health cover from the UK. HMRC can provide additional guidance and information into this process, and how it all works. Get in contact with HMRC directly using the following details:
Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
From UK: 0300 200 3500
Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010
HMRC’s opening times are from 8.30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. They are closed on weekends and UK bank holidays.
Healthcare for workers in Finland following the UK leaving the EU
If you are a UK citizen living in Finland for work purposes, you will still be issued with a Kela card once the UK leaves the EU. The allows you to ‘buy into’ the state system, and receive the level of healthcare offered to nationals of Finland.
For those living in Finland, you must apply for a permit for residents. For an employed individual, these permits cost €450 (electronic) or €520 (paper). For either version, extensions will cost €200. Until you have received this permit, you should obtain private health insurance, to ensure you are covered in the case of an emergency healthcare situation.
Pensioners in Finland
If you are currently residing in Finland and you receive exportable UK State Pension, or any other form of exportable benefit such as Employment Support Allowance, then you could be entitled to Finland state healthcare paid by the UK.
To receive this entitlement, you will be required to apply for an S1 certificate. Depending on the specific benefits you receive, the team you liaise with may vary as different benefits carry different rules. This certificate offers the individual, and their dependents, access to healthcare in Finland.
The S1 certificate will be valid until the UK leaves the EU. At this point, the document may become invalid. However, it’s highly recommended that you continue to apply for this certificate until the decision by member states is reached.
Application for the S1 certificate can be done through the International Pension Centre. This is in the Department for Work and Pensions and can be called on 0191 218 7777. The GOV.UK website offers additional guidance on exportable benefits and how the UK can support your healthcare when living abroad.
Healthcare for individuals studying in Finland
For students in Finland that are studying on a UK-recognised course, your healthcare may be paid by the UK government up until the UK leaves the EU. You may require an EHIC, and it is always advised to take out travel insurance when travelling overseas for any purpose.
Once the UK leaves the EU, any student currently studying in Finland or planning to study will require a student residence permit. Students should also continue to buy necessary insurance cover to ensure they have access to the healthcare they need when they need it.