Photo: Försäkringskassan

Healthcare in Sweden

All Swedish residents are entitled to tax-subsidised healthcare, an approach that aims to make healthcare affordable to everyone.

Remember 1177

The official website 1177.se offers extensive information on healthcare, including general information on your rights as a patient, advice on basic healthcare issues, and help finding the right doctor’s practice close to you. You can also dial 1177 from your phone while in Sweden for healthcare advice.

Emergency care for everyone

Everyone in Sweden is entitled to emergency care. EU citizens with an EU insurance card have the right to emergency care at the same subsidised cost as Swedish residents, while citizens from non-EU countries pay for the full higher cost of any care and are strongly advised to take out comprehensive health insurance from their home countries to cover any costs before being registered as residents. It will be difficult to meet a regular primary care physician before you are registered as a Swedish resident with a personal identity number; rather, you can visit your local hospital’s A&E in case of emergency. Many counties also offer acute care centres.

Once you have received your personal identity number you can visit doctors at the same cost as Swedish citizens.

Register with a doctor

Once you have received your personal identity number, you can register with a local primary care doctor. 1177 offers extensive information on choosing a doctor as well as a useful search function (in Swedish) for healthcare facilities near you. You will register at a local health centre (vårdcentral) where several doctors and nurses practice. You will then be assigned or able to choose a primary care doctor.

Once you have signed up with a doctor, you can call your health centre to make an appointment when you fall ill; some may even allow online booking of appointments. You will receive information on how to make an appointment after registering. Many health centres also offer walk-in hours.

Seeing a specialist

Generally, your first contact when you fall ill should be your primary care doctor. If you require specialist care, your doctor will send a referral to a specialist, who will contact you with information on your appointment.

There are many types of specialist doctors in Sweden. 1177 offers a guide to the various types of healthcare professionals in Sweden.

Patient fees

Healthcare is managed at the county or regional level, meaning that specific fees for visiting a doctor will vary depending on where you live. However, the maximum cost for visits to a doctor in a 12-month period is SEK 1,100. This means that if you visit the doctor repeatedly, you will only need to pay until you reach this amount; for the rest of the 12-month period, all of your visits will be cost-free.

Read more about patient fees at 1177.se.

Prescription medication

If you are prescribed medication by your doctor, you can collect your prescription at one of many pharmacies. Prescriptions are sent electronically, so that you can collect your medication from any pharmacy without bringing a paper prescription. If you are unsure of where to collect your prescription, you can ask at your health centre.

Pharmacists will give you instructions on how to use your prescription medication. You can also ask pharmacists for advice on non-prescription medication sold at pharmacies.

A high-cost limit of SEK 2,200 applies for prescription medication every 12-month period.

Interpreters

Most healthcare professionals will speak English. If you or your family need an interpreter to communicate with your doctor, this can be arranged free of charge. 1177.se offers more information about arranging an interpreter.

Dental care

Dental care is free of charge for everyone until the age of 20. Patients over 20 receive a dental care allowance for regular visits to the dentist. Like other healthcare, you are free to choose your dentist. Use 1177.se’s search function (in Swedish) to find a dentist.

See the Social Insurance Agency’s guide to dental care in Sweden for extensive guidelines and cost estimates.

Rights for ‘paperless’ immigrants

Under 18s usually have the right to free healthcare and free regular, full dental care, depending on the region you live in.

‘Hidden’ asylum seekers and ‘paperless’ adults have the right to subsidised emergency care, antenatal/maternity care, advice on contraception, abortion care, health examinations, emergency dental care and prescription medication in connection with emergency care, as well as free care according to the Swedish Law for Communicable Disease Control.

Useful link

Healthcare in Sweden – sweden.se fact sheet