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Health Service

Iceland - Health Service

If you have information which you feel is useful for the Police in Iceland there is a special number you call to contact the Reykjavík police Tel. +354-569-9020. This number is separate from emergency services numbers. The number to call in Iceland for emergency assistance in the form of police, fire and ambulance services plus rescue services is 112.

Although the number is free to call from any phone or mobile, ambulances require payment due to the lack of paramedics and vehicles so anyone using them must pay in full unless they have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Foreigners from EU/EEA countries will pay the same as an Icelandic resident if they have their EHIC.

Expect to pay in full if you do not have a card or are a native from a country outside of the EU/EAA. Healthcare is administered by the Ministry of Welfare and is paid for by service fees of 15% and taxes of 85%. Iceland operates a Universal Healthcare system in which all residents of legal status have their healthcare paid for by this system. Foreigners who have been resident in Iceland over 6 months regardless of their nationality are entitled to access to this state supplied health care. The standard of healthcare is notably high in Iceland with English being spoken to a high level by many staff. Whilst services are still of a high standard outside of the centre and other cities they are far less prevalent. Be aware if you are traveling far across the country of where the nearest medical centre or hospital is. There is no private healthcare in Iceland.

Healthcare in Iceland can be compartmentalised within four services.

Healthcare clinics (heilsugæslur) are a popular route for locals in Iceland as their prices are lower than going to the hospital. Nurses and qualified practitioners are on duty every day. Such clinics are not places for accident or medical emergencies these should go to the hospital. Local health clinics began opening in the 1970’s and have instilled a policy of patients going to these clinics whether they have a pre booked appointment or not. If you need an appointment do book, but if not you can go and wait to be seen. Here is a link to the Healthcare Centres in Reykjavik.

Teaching Hospitals (kennslusjúkrahús) and University Hospitals (háskólasjúkrahús) and community hospitals are the 3 types of hospitals found in Iceland. Sjúkrahúsið á Akureyri, (Akureyri Hospital) is a teaching hospital which is located in Akureyri and is both specialised and generalised. The National University Hospital of Iceland (LSH) in Reykjavik is by the name a University hospital and is both specialised and general. Most famous is the National University Hospital of Iceland (LSH) in Reykjavik which is a specialised and general hospital. To attend a hospital you must have a medical emergency, or be referred by a doctor. In community hospitals there are emergency wards (Slysadeild) which are open 24 hours a day. Specialised hospitals carry out surgery and give medical care to disease and specific disabilities

Health institutions/centres (heilbrigðisstofnanir) These are district run centres and some are conjoined with local hospitals. These are in charge of home care, child health care, general practice and preventative medicine. Such centres regularly have visits from specialists such as paediatricians, opticians and ear nose and throat specialists. Healthcare centres come in three categories, the first contains nurses, two doctors and administrative staff. The second contains one nurse and doctor and the last has a visiting doctor and nurse or midwife.

Insurance when visiting and or moving to Iceland is very much recommended. If you are not from EU/EAA countries and do not have a EHIC then for your first 6 months in Iceland you are advised to have medical insurance cover in case anything goes wrong. If you do not you can face large medical bills and if you need to return to your birth country, you will need to pay for a flight home when it could be covered with insurance. If you have a EHIC card, you pay the same as the locals in a medical situation but health insurance is still recommended for the first six months just in case you were to require some of the more expensive treatments or more costly procedures.

When it comes to smoking, the seller of cigarettes is required to be 18 and the purchaser must be of legal age too. Cigarettes can be bought in convenience and grocery stores and some bars. Most hotels do not allow smoking in their rooms but it is worth checking before you book as they may. The cost of a pack of cigarettes as of 2016 is between 1200.00kr-1500.00kr. An example is a packet of Marlborough's costing 1228.00kr. Attitudes to smoking are pretty laid back though attention should be paid to people's right to clean air. When it comes to smoking outside, smokers must find somewhere with adequate ventilation in a public space.

Whilst Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world complete with the 7th highest life expectancy on the planet, the citizens also suffer some health issues like anywhere in the western world. Date collected from 2014 shows that the most common health issue is coronary heart disease with it accounting for nearly 20% of total deaths in the country. Iceland has the 4th highest rate of mortality from Alzheimer's and Dementia in the world too, with 10.69% of the population succumbing to it. Other common causes of mortality are lung cancers and strokes plus Iceland seems to be number 1 in the world for deaths with lymphoma at 3.36%. The World Health Organisation compiled data from 188 countries recording obesity rates over the period from 1990-2013. It found that Iceland was positioned 21st in the world in terms of adults over the age of 20 years old with a BMI over 25. This puts Iceland above America who were 27th.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though, Icelanders have low mortality rates and extremely low pollution rates and in turn a majority of the country enjoy great health. Icelanders have a rich and varied diet which includes fish high in vitamin D and Omega 3 plus many more vegetables are being eaten on a daily basis than ever before. Icelanders live on average as of 2015 to a fine age of 82.7 years old combining the females average life expectancy (84.1) and for males (81.2). Icelanders generally have long life spans because of the low pollution combined with a diet rich in unadulterated food, water therapy through hot springs and an outdoors lifestyle.

Counselling services

Alcoholics Anonymous House by the Lake
Anonymous International meeting group.
20 Tjarnargata, Reykjavik, Captital Region 101, IS.
Tel: +354 659 7397

Read more about this country

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