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Sweden - Health Service

In Sweden in case of emergency (nödsituation) call the emergency number 112 for fire (brandkår), police (polis) and ambulance (ambulans) services. If you are looking for information and advice about emergencies and accidents then dial 113 13 rather than the emergency number. For police non emergencies call 114 14 and for healthcare advice dial 1177 or go to your local healthcare centre.

The standard of healthcare in Sweden is among the best in the world. Hospitals are well resourced and staff are highly trained with a generally high level of English. The healthcare system itself is globally renowned as an exemplary approach to healthcare, with other countries studying it as a model framework. Healthcare in Sweden is universal and available to Swedes and non Swedes alike. Healthcare is mostly decentralized and government funded however there are a small number of for-profit private healthcare operations in private hospitals. The universal healthcare covers prescription drugs, primary health care, disability support and rehabilitation services, dental care for children and young people (under 20), public health and preventive services and both inpatient and outpatient hospital care. Also included is homecare, nursing home care and patient transport support.

Healthcare is paid for via taxes. Around 9% of Sweden’s GNP goes on medical and health care. The largest amount of healthcare is funded through income tax, municipal taxes and council tax. When it comes to costs incurred in healthcare, the state pays for around 97% of the costs incurred. Dental care is slightly different as it is not fully subsidised so those who are not receiving subsidised rates can expect sometimes high prices. When an individual visits the doctor they pay a maximum of 1,100 SEK for the visit. Prescription medication is capped at 2,200 SEK per year, however much is prescribed. Hospital stays come in at 100 SEK a day and if a specialist is required, their visit costs 350 SEK.

If you are an EU citizen and have an EHIC card then you will automatically qualify to get the same treatment as a local. If you are planning on staying for more than a year then a personnummer from the tax office will entitle you to the full benefits of the healthcare system. This applies to both EU and non EU citizens. If you are an EU citizen and are waiting for your EHIC, insurance will be necessary to cover this time. For non EU citizens who have residence permits not longer than a year, health insurance is necessary. However, to travel to Sweden a non EU citizen must have health insurance alongside their visa to travel there. Non EU citizens can check to see if Sweden has a reciprocal medical agreement with their home country on the Swedish Social Insurance Agency website. EU citizens who do not have health insurance or an EHIC can can expect to pay full rates for treatment and if emergency medical treatment then a visit to A&E can be from SEK 120 – SEK 450.

People who want to see a doctor make an appointment with the local healthcare centre (vårdcentralen) where they can see a doctor and if required, receive a referral to the hospital. Prescriptions can be picked up from the chemist if prescribed by the health centre doctor or hospital doctor. If they aren’t able to make an appointment at the health care centre and require non life threatening urgent care they can normally receive treatment at a local acute care centre / emergency unit (närakut). The emergency unit in hospitals is called akutmottagning and is open 24 hours a day.

Since June 2005 the law has forbidden smoking in restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes; a ruling which was popular with locals. It is also banned in buses, trains, schools and hospitals. The Swedes are passionate about clean air and health so do not take kindly to breathing in secondhand smoke. Precautions must be taken by smokers to find somewhere to smoke which is not in close proximity to others and has suitable ventilation if outside bars or clubs. Less than 20% of the population smoke but many people still use snus, a smokeless tobacco product, for their fix.

Common health issues affecting the population include allergies, which have seen an increase in sufferers in recent years. A topic in the spotlight currently is mental health, particularly in those under the age of 30. Mental ill-health accounts for 60% of all new disability claims, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Youth clinics, employment services and school health services are aiming to help treat the problem. Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death in the country, followed by stroke and then common types of cancer, the most widespread being lung and colorectal cancers. Generally, the Swedes are a healthy and happy country, with males seeing a life expectancy of 80.7 years and women 84 years.

Counselling services

Alcoholics Anonymous Sweden
Hotline: (46) 08 720 38 42

Nagon att tala med Samaritans
Hotline: (46) 31 711 2400

National suicide helpline
(46) 020 22 00 60

Narconon Sweden
(International Drug advice and misuse helpline)

National Women’s Helpline

Psychological helpline

Read more about this country

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