Norway at a Glance
Healthcare in Norway
Do you value a healthy work-and-life balance? Norway may be the right place for you! The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has repeatedly declared this Scandinavian country the best country to live in. The life expectancy in Norway is higher than ever before. The general health is excellent in Norway, making for a median age of about 40 years.
Norway has introduced a universal, public healthcare system which is financed by the country’s tax revenues and a national insurance scheme. Thus, healthcare is accessible for all legal residents, which reflects the high status of equality in Norway. The utter importance of equality also accounts for the low poverty rates and the comparatively equal distribution of wealth among the population in Norway.
The Public Health System
During the 1900s, the welfare state took significant shape in Norway, which was accompanied by the development of a public healthcare system. The public health sector is financed through taxes and is supposed to be equally accessible by all residents, regardless of their income. This sector is also one of the largest employers in Norway.
In general, the responsibility of providing health services lies with the municipalities. Each municipality is obligated to provide primary health services to its residents, in form of general practitioner clinics for instance. Specialized care, on the other hand, is provided by the counties and health regions. Expats can also turn to private hospitals and health centers, of course. As a legal resident, you are generally free to choose at which hospital or healthcare facility you want to receive treatment.
National Insurance Scheme
As an expat, you can be a member of Norway’s national insurance scheme, even if you are not a Norwegian citizen or a national of a European country. What is essential, however, is that you are a legal resident of Norway. As a member of the national insurance scheme, you must pay contributions together with your taxes. Keep in mind that you may not be granted all insurance benefits under the national insurance scheme. Some benefits require you to have been a member of the national insurance scheme for a while.
Even if you are not automatically covered by the national insurance scheme in Norway, you can apply for voluntary membership. This is the case if you stay in Norway for a period of three to twelve months and have strong ties to Norway.
Social Security Agreements
Please remember that social security agreements between Norway and your home country can change the status of your insurance membership. This agreement may determine if you are considered a member of the Norwegian insurance scheme or that of your home country.
Norway has bilateral social security agreements with the following countries (among others):
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Hungary (healthcare only)
- the US
There is also a social security convention between all Nordic countries and the so-called EEA agreement that applies to the 27 EU member states as well as the three EFTA countries.
How to Find a Doctor
It is easy for expats who are registered in the National Population Register (Folkeregister) to find a doctor. You will automatically be assigned a general practitioner by the Norwegian Health Economics Administration (HELFO). Refer to the website of HELFO (mostly in Norwegian) for more information on this process. Of course, you can also contact your municipality and ask for available public health services in your area. For emergencies outside of municipality office hours, call 113.