We have always heard that healthcare in Scandinavia was rated amongst the best in the world. But how does it really work?
First of all, each municipality is responsible for the healthcare services in its area, whether it is a hospital or dental services. You don´t have to be a patient in the area where you live, being able to choose any location in the whole municipality, or even in another region.
Secondly, there is a useful website where you can find all the information related to healthcare in Sweden (how it works, how much you pay, available services, and even, a practical guide about diseases/health problems). This service is available in more than 10 languages, and if you call, you can ask for an interpreter! When you register for the first time, you will get a password, and from that point on, you can use a lot of services online, like booking an appointment, renewing your prescription…).
Unlike Portugal, where an appointment can have a long queueing list (depending on the regions and medical specialties), making people turn to hospitals, in Sweden, your first contact has to be with the health center, unless you have been shot or something similar. You call or use the online service, they evaluate the situation and book a time for you. Most of the times, you are not even seen by a doctor, since the nurses can perform a lot of tasks. If needed, a doctor is called in. So far, I have not waited more than 3/5 days for an appointment – even for the travel vaccination appointment (which can take weeks/months in Portugal, and I live close to the North Pole!).
One of the most interesting facts is the focus they put on nurses. If they solve your problem, it´s one less person a doctor needs to see, so the time is managed in a much more efficient way!
Whenever you get prescription, it goes directly into the system, connected with your personnummer, and you pick it up at any pharmacy!
There is a set price for every kind of appointment or examination you book. The difference is that there is a limit above which noone will have to pay more (around 200 €/year). Dentalcare is aside this limit, because it is extremely expensive, as in any other country, but for people who have recurrent dental problems, there is a possibility of getting high-cost treatment up to some extent.
Besides this, gynecological and prenatal care, amongst others, are free of charge. And of course, health and dental care are free for all children! Some companies also compensate their employees, meaning you can get around 70% back for what you paid during the year.
All this is supported by the taxes. It is expected the system will collapse, one day, with the increasing influx of emmigrants and refugees, but for the time being, it´s a far nicer system than the one in the Netherlands, for instance. Even if you don´t go to the doctor, you pay around 10 times the maximum fee we have to pay in Sweden! It used to be worse in Portugal, but most of the people who can afford, still hire a health insurance company, to avoid expensive costs at the doctor, since waiting for the public service, is not always an option. The most surprising is that the tax we pay in Portugal is considerably higher than in Sweden, but thanks to corruption, the money goes to a lot of places, but healthcare!