Sweden is a country located in northern Europe with coasts overlooking the Baltic Sea to the east and the North Sea to the west. It is bordered by Norway to the west and Finland to the east. Sweden is also linked to Denmark by a bridge and tunnel connecting Malmö to Copenhagen.
The country is mainly made up of forests and lakes with a mountain range, the Scandinavian Alps, stretching from the north to the south of Sweden. Major cities include the capital Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö.
Sweden is divided into 21 counties, each of which has some autonomy in the management of its local affairs. The country also has several large islands, including Gotland, located in the Baltic Sea.
Population: 10.51 million in December 2022
Area: 528,447 km2
Currency: Swedish crown (krona)
Official languages: Swedish
Discover how the Swedish healthcare system works
The Swedish healthcare system is considered to be one of the best in the world. It is financed primarily by public funds and is accessible to all Swedish citizens as well as to foreign residents.
The Swedish national health services are both public and private. Public healthcare is managed and provided either by the county, the local authority, or the municipality. There are two types of private healthcare: - Health services provided by a private company under contract with the county council, local authority, or municipality. In this case, the cost of private and public healthcare is the same. - Health services provided by a private company without a contract with the national healthcare services. The patient must then pay the full cost of the treatment and care received.
Primary healthcare is provided by general practitioners and nurses in local health centers while hospital care is available in regional and university hospitals.
Waiting times for non-emergency treatment can be long, but emergency care is usually available quickly. Patients also have some choice in selecting their doctor or hospital.
The Swedish healthcare system has a strong tradition of prevention, health promotion and equal access to care. Mental healthcare, which is also covered by the Swedish healthcare system, is generally of high quality.
Healthcare formalities for expatriates
If you are planning to move to Sweden, it is important to make some arrangements in terms of your health such as:
Taking out supplementary health insurance: Sweden has a public healthcare system that covers 75%-82% of expenses but it is strongly recommended to take out private health insurance to cover medical expenses, especially if you are an expatriate. It is also important to check if your current insurance covers you abroad.
Obtaining a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC): If you are a citizen of the European Union, you can obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your health insurance organization. This card entitles you to medical coverage in case of emergency during your stay and guarantees you direct access to public healthcare providers. If you forget, lose or do not have your card with you, or if it is stolen, your health insurance fund can issue you with a PRC (Provisional Replacement Certificate) which is valid for 3 months and can be used under the same conditions as the EHIC.
So, basically, it is important to plan your trip to Sweden carefully when it comes to your health. It is recommended that you consult your doctor before leaving and take out international health insurance to cover all medical expenses during your stay.
Visiting a doctor
You can find a general practitioner in your area by using the "1177 Vårdguiden" service which is available online or by phone. You can also go to a primary care clinic ("Vårdcentral" in Swedish) which can help you find a doctor that suits your needs.
If you need a specialist consultation, you can ask your general practitioner or search for a provider through your international insurance medical network. Most specialized healthcare is available in public hospitals which are located throughout the country.
Healthcare in Sweden is largely free or low-cost for residents and expatriates. However, it is important to note that some fees may apply for medical visits, dental care, or medication, for example. In this case, and without supplementary international health insurance, you will have to pay the costs out of pocket.
Being admitted to hospital
If you are an expatriate in Sweden, you will first have to see a doctor for a consultation or go to the emergency room if the situation seems worrying. If the doctor feels that you need to be hospitalized, they will send you to the nearest hospital.
Swedish hospitals are often equipped with modern technology and have well-trained staff, which allows them to offer high-quality healthcare.
As for the cost of a day in hospital in a state-registered facility, the daily charge is capped at 110 SEK (around 10 euros/day). It is important to note that if you do not have international health insurance or if your insurance does not cover healthcare in Sweden, you will have to pay the medical expenses yourself. Costs vary depending on the type of healthcare you receive, the hospital you are treated in, and the length of your hospital stay.
If you are a foreign resident in Sweden, you can buy over-the-counter medication (without a prescription) in Swedish pharmacies. However, if you need a prescription drug that was prescribed by a doctor in your home country, you may need to contact a Swedish doctor to obtain a new prescription.
Medicines in Sweden may have different names to those used in other countries, even if the active ingredients are the same. If you have any doubts or questions about the medication you are buying, it is recommended that you seek help from a Swedish pharmacist.
Vaccinations to be carried out
The country does not pose any particular problems in terms of hygiene and health and no vaccinations are required for a stay in Sweden. However, recommended vaccinations for travelers include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, influenza and measles, and mumps and rubella (if you are not already vaccinated against these diseases).
It is also important to check that your routine vaccinations are up to date, such as diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough.
In general, Sweden is considered to be a safe country in terms of health. The Swedish healthcare system is highly regarded and very well developed.
However, like anywhere else in the world, there are health risks in Sweden. Tick-borne diseases are quite common during the summer months and can cause diseases such as Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. It is therefore recommended to take precautions such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellents.
In winter, health risks are related to cold and snow, such as frostbite and hypothermia. It is important to wear warm clothing and stay warm indoors during periods of very cold weather.
Good to know
Emergency services and useful numbers:
Police: 114 14 (if not urgent) / 112 (if urgent)
Fire department: 112
Medical emergencies: 112
24-hour medical advice: 1177
Official name: Kingdom of Sweden
Main cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Uppsala
Type of state: Constitutional monarchy
Languages spoken: Swedish and English
Get your health insurance for Sweden
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