Healthcare in Sweden: Hospitals and Health Insurance

Healthcare in Sweden: Hospitals and Health Insurance | HealthSoul

Overview of Healthcare in Sweden

With a population of just under 9.8 million in 2015, Sweden ranks 90th in the world by population and 60th by total area. The official language of Sweden is Swedish. The currency is the Swedish krona.

Sweden ranks 23rd in world health ranking per WHO. In 2014, the total expenditure on health per person was $5,219, which is 11.9% of the GDP. Swedish males have a life expectancy at birth of 81 years, and females can expect to live 84 years. There are 3.77 physicians per 1,000 people in Sweden as compared with 2.56 physicians per 1,000 people in the United States.

Hospitals in Sweden

Sweden has 7 university hospitals (highly specialized with advanced equipment) and about 70 county council hospitals. Six of these are private hospitals (3 not-for-profit).  All university hospitals and 2/3 of the rest provide full emergency services. Counties are grouped into 6 health care regions to achieve a high level of care through enhanced cooperation. Hospitals are funded through global budgets or a mix of global budgets (67%), diagnosis-related groups (30%), and performance based methods (less than 5%).

Private facilities are available and regulated by county governments. In addition, private companies provide about 20% of public hospital and 30% of public primary care.

Best Hospitals in Sweden | HealthSoul

Health Insurance in Sweden

Swedish healthcare is funded mostly by county and municipal taxes, with a small amount added through patient fees for exams. Responsibility for management is shared by the central, county, and municipal governments. Regional variations in covered services are due to the county councils having much freedom in determining how care should be planned and delivered. Seven sections of care are the norm: close-to-home, emergency, elective, in-patient, out-patient, specialist, and dental.

Coverage is universal and automatic. Besides Swedish citizens, coverage is provided for asylum seeking and undocumented children, while undocumented adults have the right to immediate care and adult asylum seekers to care that cannot wait (maternity care).

Yearly out-of-pocket costs exist for both medical care and pharmaceuticals. Dental care is covered for children under 19, and is partially subsidized after that.  General dental insurance is available, as is private medical insurance, which is purchased by about 10% of all employed people. Long wait time for non-emergency treatment is often a problem, especially for psychiatric patients.

Travel (International) Health Insurance in Sweden

Many European countries offer European Health Insurance card (EHIC ) which offers emergency medical coverage when traveling to participating European countries. Travel, or international, health insurance provides comprehensive medical coverage when traveling outside of one’s home country. Travel health insurance is different from travel insurance, as the latter may provide only emergency coverage but not full medical coverage.

Travelers should check with their health insurance provider, as they may already have an option of international health coverage. If they do not, they can purchase travel health insurance from their home country or the destination country.