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Healthcare in Denmark

Health Insurance and the Healthcare System of Denmark Explained

Healthcare for non-residents and residents is fully covered in this section of our guide. Whether you want access to free public healthcare or wish to supplement that with private health insurance, we guide you step by step through all you need to know and do. In general, Denmark has high healthcare standards and you will not need to wait long for appointments and procedures with the public healthcare system.

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Find out how the healthcare system and health insurance in Denmark work. In this section, we provide an overview of the Danish healthcare system, its processes, rules, peculiarities, and everything you need to do to be entitled to free public healthcare.

We also cover private health insurance in Denmark for those who want to cut the line and avoid the wait times for specialists’ consultations and elective procedures.

Learn how you can find a doctor in the country whether that is a general practitioner, dentist, or specialist. We cover what to expect when you are giving birth in Denmark too, from what you will need to bring to the hospital—virtually nothing—to which medical care you should expect. If you stick to the public sector, you should have no costs at all.

How Healthcare Works in Denmark

Denmark has a mixed healthcare system with both public and private health institutions.

Danish Healthcare Facts

  • Danes are generally satisfied with public healthcare.
  • Out of all EU countries, Denmark has the shortest length of stay in hospitals, at four and a half days.
  • Denmark has an online system which stores all patients’ data. This can be accessed by a number of medical professionals, from doctors to nurses, even pharmacists.
  • An at-home monitoring system called telehealth allows patients to videocall doctors from their homes. This includes equipment for patients to measure their own vital signs.

Does Denmark Have Public Healthcare?

Yes, Denmark has free public healthcare for its citizens and residents. The healthcare system is regulated by the central government, although most services are provided by the five regions’ local governments.

Hospitals and general practitioners are managed at a regional level, while nursing homes, home care, and school health services are the responsibility of municipalities. Only some specialized hospitals are managed centrally.

The Healthcare System in Denmark Explained

What does the public healthcare cover? Public healthcare in Denmark covers all medical assistance and hospital stays. This includes:

  • a general practitioner to provide primary medical care which includes routine treatment, examinations, and advice;
  • access to specialist care if referred by your general practitioner;
  • emergency care and medical assistance after hours;
  • treatment at hospitals including surgery, admission, and aftercare;
  • home nursing and visits from a health visitor.

However, there are some services which are not subsidized by the state for which you will have to pay entirely or partially. Public healthcare in Denmark does not include:

  • medication: some is subsidized but you will still have to pay between 50 and 25% of the price;
  • dental care: free until the age of 18 after which it is no longer covered by public health insurance;
  • elective cosmetic surgeries;
  • fertility treatments although some subsidy may be available;
  • physiotherapy;
  • psychology: may also get a subsidy if you have a referral from your doctor;
  • chiropractic: partially subsidized if you have a referral from your doctor;
  • other non-medical care or alternative treatments such as psychotherapy or coaching.

How does Healthcare Work in Denmark?

Here are a few things you should know about public healthcare in Denmark:

  • Once you register in the country and obtain your CPR number, you will immediately have access to free healthcare.
  • This means you can choose a general practitioner. You will need a referral from your GP to see specialists with the exception of dentists, ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctors), or eye specialists.
  • General practitioners typically work during weekdays from 8:00 to 16:00. They may only be available for phone calls from 8:00 to 9:00 which should only be for emergencies.
  • You may be able to book appointments online with your GP if they give you a specific access code.
  • Your GP and other doctors will give you prescriptions for medication, subsidized or not, which can be picked up at any pharmacy.
  • You can choose which hospital to go to; just make sure it has the specialty you need. If you are not sure, ask your family doctor or check online, as the hospital is likely to have a website.
  • If you do not speak Danish, the doctor may decide to have an interpreter present. This ensures that patients receive all the necessary information and consent to the treatment. You can also request an interpreter yourself, if you think you need one.

Sundhedskort: The Yellow Card

To access free healthcare in Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, you must have a health insurance card, known as the yellow card.

This card contains:

  • your name;
  • your address;
  • your CPR number (the equivalent of a social security number);
  • the name and address of your doctor.

You should receive your yellow card automatically after registering for a CPR number. If you have not registered for a CPR number, you should do so first thing. The card should take no more than four weeks to arrive in the mail.

You should show this card every time you see doctors, specialists, and psychologists, and visit hospitals and pharmacies. You can also use it as an ID document in libraries, post offices, stores, etc., so it is recommended that you carry it with you.

Danish Healthcare Costs

As mentioned, public healthcare is free in Denmark. Just remember to show your yellow card whenever requesting public health services. You will still need to pay for some medical services such as dentist appointments, psychologists, medication, etc.

You can get a subsidy for some medical specialists that are not covered by public health insurance by getting a referral from your GP.

Pros and Cons of the Danish Healthcare System

Pros
  • It is free for residents in Denmark.
  • There is freedom to choose and be treated in any hospital of the country.
  • You have access to primary care specifically through general practitioners.
  • It is easy and efficient.
Cons
  • It is too slow to introduce new, cutting-edge treatments.
  • It suffers from tight budgets.
  • There is a lack of cooperation between municipalities, hospitals, and general practitioners.
  • It ranks low on the treatment of some conditions such as breast and colorectal cancer.
  • Access to medical care differs depending on where you are in the country, which leads to an imbalance in care across the country.
  • Does not include medical care for some specialties, such as dental care, psychology, etc.
  • Although waiting times are not long (around three months), you still need to wait for most elective procedures.

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An Overview of Private Health Insurance

How does health insurance work in Denmark? This section covers everything you need to know about private healthcare including the different types of insurance you can get, their coverage, average costs, and more.

Do You Need Health Insurance in Denmark?

If you are entitled to residence in Denmark, and have a CPR number, you do not need private health insurance. You can rely on the public health sector to cover all emergency and non-emergency medical needs.

However, you may find yourself on a waiting list for elective procedures or having to pay dentist appointments or other specialties entirely out-of-pocket. If you want insurance coverage for those situations, taking out private health insurance may be a good idea.

Since the private sector is not affected by waiting lists, seeing private doctors or specialists typically means a faster diagnosis and treatment.

Private Health Insurance and Types of Insurance Plans in Denmark

There are different levels of coverage when it comes to private health insurance. The most basic is almost exclusively provided by non-profit organization Danmark Sygeforsikring. It covers statutory copayments mainly for pharmaceuticals and dental care but also other specialties not covered by state medical care, such as phycology or physiotherapy. Around two million Danes have this type of private health insurance.

You can also take out a supplementary insurance plan which includes a wider access to the private medical sector. This service is provided by for-profit insurances. It is common for employers to include this type of insurance as a benefit for their employees. If you are not employed, you are generally not covered by supplementary insurance—this includes students, pensioners, the unemployed, etc.

Taking out private health insurance covers treatment at private clinics, physicians, specialists, and private hospitals. Keep in mind that insurance companies typically require a referral letter from your general practitioner, in order to cover expenses for a consultation, exams, and treatment at private hospitals.

You will also need confirmation of financial coverage from your insurer once at the hospital, before making an appointment or receiving treatment.

How to Get Health Insurance in Denmark

To get private health insurance, you will need to look for an insurance company. The following are the leading insurance companies in Denmark:

  • Tryg
  • Topdanmark
  • Cofdan
  • Brand
  • Gjensidige Forsikring
  • Sygeforsikringen “danmakr”

You can also choose an international health insurance company, such as IHI Bupa which has offers for Scandinavian countries, Regency, or Cigna. Just keep in mind that local insurers are typically more compliant with local laws and regulations which means they are the safer choice.

Average Cost of Health Insurance in Denmark

Health insurance in Denmark costs around 130 DKK (20 USD) per month for adults or 1,560 DKK (230 USD) annually. However, the price may increase as you age and some insurers cease to offer services for 65-year-olds or older.

How to Find a Doctor or Dentist

Learn how to find a doctor and dentist in Denmark so your medical needs are met as soon as you arrive in the country.

How to Find a Family Doctor

GP’s act as your first point of contact with the Danish healthcare system. They provide prescriptions, contraception, vaccinations, and refer you to a specialist whenever needed.

You get a general practitioner at the time of your registration for a CPR number. However, the exact procedure of choosing a GP may differ from region to region. For example, while in some regions you might be given a list of doctors to choose from, in the Copenhagen area you are appointed a doctor at the time of your registration. Even if this is the case, you can later change to another GP which will cost you 165 DKK (25 USD), minimum.

Whether you choose a general practitioner or are appointed one, your doctor’s name and address are registered in your yellow card which is issued at the same time of your registration for a CPR.

How to Find Specialists

In Denmark, you cannot simply call a specialist and ask for an appointment­. You can only get an appointment with a specialist with a referral from your GP. This includes a referral to visit pediatricians, gynecologists, and dermatologists too.

Even if you want to see a specialist within the private sector, you may need a letter from your general practitioner in most private hospitals.

How to Find a Dentist

Dental care for adults is not covered by the public health sector. However, check-ups and treatments may be partially subsidized by the government and that amount is automatically deducted when you make payments.

You are free to choose a dentist. You can find one online or at nearby clinics by searching for tandlæge near you.

Average Wait Time to See a Doctor in Denmark

Like in many other countries, waiting times are one of the biggest issues of the public health sector in Denmark.

However, to avoid longer waiting times, Denmark has created two different systems that allow patients to access specialists’ care. One allows you to choose from any of the public hospitals in the country (to the extent of that hospital’s capacity) which means patients can choose hospitals with shorter waiting times.

The other system allows you to choose among private and public hospitals and clinics if public institutions in your region take longer than 30 days to treat you. This last option is known as an “extended hospital choice,” and your referral letter should state whether or not you are entitled to it.

Even with these measures, waiting times to see a specialist are around 60 days. But in some cases, it can be more, with close to 20% of patients waiting for more than three months.

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Giving Birth in Denmark

Giving birth in Denmark as a nonresident is not advisable. If you want access to free medical care, you must be a resident in the country. If you are having a baby in Denmark as a foreigner, make sure you are properly registered with a CRP number to enjoy the same rights to free healthcare as nationals.

From Prenatal to Postnatal Care

Danish healthcare includes prenatal care, childbirth, and postnatal care. You are entitled to two ultrasounds free of charge between 11 to 14 weeks and the second between 18 and 20 weeks. Additional ultrasounds must be paid out-of-pocket. You can also test for Down’s Syndrome or other birth defects during the pregnancy. You will be referred to a midwife from your family doctor who will assist you throughout your pregnancy.

You are also entitled to other medical care besides the standard assessments. This includes treatment such as acupuncture to relieve discomfort or parent classes to prepare you and your partner for childbirth. You can take these classes in English in some hospitals such as Rigshospitalet, Herlev, and Hvidovre. Ask your midwife for other hospitals or places which offer these services or do an online search instead.

Where Can You Give Birth?

The majority of pregnant mothers have their babies at public hospitals. You can choose the hospital where you would like to give birth—just look for the ones which have maternity wards as not all do.

Alternatively, you may choose to have a baby at home. If this is the case, simply inform your doctor and midwife.

In both cases, only the midwife is typically present during childbirth. That is because childbirth is seen as a natural even rather than a medical condition, and as such, the presence of a doctor is considered unnecessary.

After the birth, a health provider will do house visits to make sure you and the baby are in good health.

Cost of Having a Baby in Denmark

As mentioned, you are entitled to free healthcare in the country including medical care during childbirth if you hold residence in Denmark. This is true whether you are giving birth in Denmark as a permanent resident or on a temporary residence permit which can be extended.

Unless you wish to have procedures done which are not covered by public healthcare, such as extra ultrasounds, you should not have any medically related costs with your pregnancy.

That said, you can give birth in Denmark without health insurance, but you may choose to do so if you want to be seen by private doctors or specialists throughout your pregnancy.

Maternity wards usually give out diapers and clothes for your baby, so you do not need to worry about bringing those to the hospital. Baby formula is typically not provided as breastfeeding is very much encouraged in the country. You will receive support from specialized nurses for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in public is widely accepted.

Benefits of Giving Birth in Denmark

As a future parent, you are entitled to maternity benefits if you are employed in Denmark (or unemployed in some cases).

The maximum benefit you can receive is 4,355 DKK (680 USD) gross per week; however, this will largely depend on your employment situation.

Giving Birth in Denmark for Citizenship

Your child is automatically entitled to citizenship if they are born to at least one Danish citizen.

Children who were born in Denmark can obtain a residence permit in the country if:

  • one of the parents holds residence, either a permanent permit or a temporary permit with the possibility of renewal;
  • the parent which holds a residence permit has full custody of the child;
  • the child is younger than 15 and lives with the parent who holds a residence permit.

The child may lose their residence permit if they leave the country. A new residence permit could be much harder to obtain in these cases, although exceptions can be made for family reunification if it is in the child’s best interest.

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Updated on: September 07, 2020
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