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Healthcare in Norway

Health Insurance and the Healthcare System of Norway Explained

Healthcare for non-residents in Norway is universal but not entirely free. Once you are over 16 years of age, you are expected to pay an annual deductible equivalent to an average of 2,040 NOK (222 USD) to access the state healthcare system.

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The public healthcare system and health insurance in Norway are both options for expats in this country. However, it is important to note that private health insurance is virtually nonexistent as there is a very small market for it. Mostly everyone is covered under the public system with people only opting for private healthcare insurance to shorten wait times. Besides this, the quality of care you end up receiving when it comes to public versus private is exactly the same. This section will provide you with an overview of Norway’s healthcare system in regard to public and private healthcare, and more.

Finding a doctor is easy because you are assigned one once you register with the National Registry. You are able to choose your general practitioner (GP) from an approved list.

Giving birth in Norway is an extremely attractive option for pregnant women as the state covers every pregnancy and birth-related cost, regardless of coverage.

How Healthcare Works in Norway

How does healthcare work in Norway? The healthcare system in Norway is one of the best in the world. You will find both public hospitals and private clinics in the country. Public hospitals are run by four Regional Health Authorities (RHA), which are overseen by the Ministry of Health and Care Services. It is the government’s responsibility to provide healthcare to the public regardless of age, race, gender, income, and area of residence. Healthcare is universal and automatic for all residents. Primary health and social care is the responsibility of the municipalities.

EU residents have access to the same health services in Norway as in their home country. Other visitors will be charged in full. Undocumented adult immigrants only have access to emergency acute care, but undocumented children have access to the same care as Norwegian citizens.

Health Status in Norway

As of 2018, Norway’s health status is generally good.

  • The life expectancy for women was 84 years old and for men, it was 81 (2019).
  • The main causes of death are cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • In comparison to other countries, Norway has a relativity high number of drug-induced deaths; averaging 260 annually.
  • People in Norway are still not physically active enough and consume too much sugar. Thus, obesity in adults is on the rise.
  • Ten percent of adults in Norway smoke on a daily basis. Lung cancer continues to increase, especially among females.
  • Between 80,000 and 100,000 people suffer from dementia in Norway.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you have your EHIC card and are traveling in Norway temporarily, you will be able to access state healthcare services at a reduced cost or for free. However, your EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. It is still recommended you take out travel insurance.

Norway Healthcare Facts

Here is Norway’s healthcare system explained.

Does Norway Have Free Healthcare?

No. While public healthcare is available across Norway, it is only free for people 16 years and younger. It also free for pregnant and/or nursing women, regardless of coverage. Everyone else must pay an annual deductible equivalent to an average of 2,040 NOK (222 USD). After paying this, one receives an exemption card which entitles them to free healthcare for the rest of the year.

Why is Norway’s Healthcare So Expensive?

Norway’s healthcare system is financed through national and municipal taxes. Social security contributions finance public retirement funds, sick leave payment, and they reimburse some extra healthcare costs for certain patient groups. To some expats, Norway’s healthcare costs might seem high, but Norway’s healthcare system is actually quite affordable. It is created in such a way so that everyone contributes a little, and those who are ill are not heavily burdened with expensive medical bills.

What Does the Public Healthcare Cover?

The public system under which all Norwegians are covered is known as the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). Here is what is covered:

  • emergency services and transport
  • costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth
  • medical treatment of children under 16
  • medical treatment of work-related injuries
  • general healthcare costs such as doctors’ appointments and prescription medication (partially covered)
  • treatment abroad if necessary
  • rehabilitation
  • dental care services for children up to 18 years of age and other prioritized groups (such as people with chronic diseases, patients with chronic mental disabilities, and nursing home patients)
  • dental care for 19–20-year-olds (partially covered)
  • braces for children (partially covered)
  • psychological care for children under 18 years of age
What are Norway’s Healthcare System’s Pros and Cons?

Pros:

  • All citizens and residents are insured by the NIS.
  • There is the option to opt-out of the public system and purchase private insurance.
  • Patients can choose their own GP from a government list.
  • The system offers high-quality care.

Cons:

  • Not everything is covered under NIS.
    • Extra material and medical equipment are paid out-of-pocket by the patient.
    • Treatment such as specialized physiotherapy requires an additional deductible.
    • Cosmetic surgery is not covered.
    • Glasses and contact lenses are not covered (unless vision is very limited).
  • Patients can only switch between physicians twice per year, and only if there is not a waiting list for said doctor.
  • There are significant wait times for some procedures.
  • Care can be denied if it is not considered cost-effective.

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An Overview of Private Health Insurance

How does health insurance work? Private health insurance in Norway is provided by for-profit insurance companies and allows for quick access, a larger choice of private providers, and better facilities. Nine percent of Norway’s population (15% of the workforce) have some kind of private medical insurance. Ninety-one percent of private insurance policies are paid for by an employer.

Many workplaces offer private medical insurance as a benefit for employees, but the reality is that those who need healthcare have access to it anyway. Some employers also purchase it thinking that it will reduce sick leave among their workers, but studies have proven that it has no effect. Therefore, it has been theorized that many workplaces are wasting money on continuing to purchase private insurance for employees.

Do You Need Health Insurance in Norway?

Purchasing private health insurance is optional in Norway. There is a very small market for it because most people are covered under the public scheme. Therefore, private health insurance is not commonplace in this country and is quite limited.

Health Insurance Coverage

Private health insurance in this country does not cover acute cases or emergency hospitalization. Here is an example of what some health insurance plans might cover:

  • dental care
  • surgery and hospital treatment
  • consultation with a private medical specialist
  • prescription drugs
  • psychological First Aid
  • yearly 24/7 health phone
  • treatment with a psychologist

Types of Health Insurance Plans

Insurance plans can be divided into basic, standard and super coverage, with the latter being the absolute best you can buy with the most coverage. It is also the priciest.

How Much is Health Insurance?

Norway’s health insurance average cost depends on the type of plan and level of coverage you choose. Other factors that determine cost include

  • age (the older you are, the more expensive your plan will be);
  • gender;
  • payment frequency.

Local insurers have plans for an average of 508 NOK (56 USD) per month. However, expats may need to meet a minimum residency period before being able to purchase insurance coverage.

How to Get Health Insurance in Norway

For expats, the largest international insurance providers in Norway are the following companies:

  • Allianz
  • Bupa Global
  • Cigna Global
  • Pacific Prime

Norsk Helseforsikring is another option; however, it is not an international company. It is a Norwegian health insurance company.

To get health insurance, contact the company of your choice for details and a quote.

Self-Employed Workers

Just like traditional employees, self-employed workers have access to sickness cash benefits along with the state healthcare system. Therefore, they have the choice to purchase additional private health insurance as well.

How to Find a Doctor or Dentist

When you relocate to Norway, you will need to know how to find a doctor and a dentist. If you would like to read reviews on either doctors or dentists before settling on one, click here.

How to Find a Family Doctor

Everyone that is registered with the National Registry has a right to a general practitioner (GP). That GP can be chosen from a list, so long as the doctor is available to take on more patients. To find and choose your doctor under the primary doctor scheme, use the Bytte fastlege online. You can also change your doctor and be put on a waiting list via this online service as well. Be advised, you can only be put on one waiting list at a time. Being a part of the GP scheme is completely optional and you can opt-out of it. If you require treatment, you will then be responsible for finding your own doctor and you may be subject to a higher fee. To deregister from the scheme, call Veiledning helsenorge.no at +47 23 32 70 00.

Children under 16 are assigned the same primary doctor as their mother, assuming both parents share the same address and parental responsibility. Otherwise, the child will have the same doctor as the parent he/she lives with.

Students studying in Norway, and who have paid their tuition fees, will have access to the GPs associated with their college/university.

When you visit your primary doctor, they will keep recorded notes on your treatment and follow-up. Information from hospitals, specialists, and other health institutions like X-ray and test results are also kept as part of your patient records. These are only accessible by you and health personnel involved in your treatment. You can also request access to these records at any time upon payment of an administration fee.

If you are trying to figure out how to find a specialist, your doctor is responsible for referring you to one.

How to Find a Dentist

The Public Dental Health Services offers free treatment (except braces) to children (ages 0–18). For people between the ages of 19 and 20, the Public Dental Health Services covers 75% of expenses. Adults will need to pay out-of-pocket for dental services, although there are some exceptions. If you have purchased private insurance, contact your provider to see if dental care is covered and to what extent.

To find a dentist in your area, you can search via the Tannlegerinorge (Dentists in Norway) directory. If you need a dentist in an emergency, search here.

Average Wait Time to See a Doctor in Norway

To see a doctor in Norway, you will need an appointment. Medical centers are open between 8:00 to 15:00 and you can usually get an appointment the same day you call.

If you require hospitalization during your treatment, under specialist recommendation, you will be expected to wait. It is not unusual to wait up to three months before being admitted into a public hospital for treatment.

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Giving Birth in Norway

Giving birth in Norway as non-residents will require the parents to apply for a residence permit for their baby or a registration certificate once they are born. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) is the one to contact for this. This must be done within the first year of the child’s life. Both parents must have legal residence in Norway. The same rules apply if you are giving birth in Norway as a permanent resident.

Giving birth in Norway without health insurance is not a problem because the cost of having a baby in Norway is free, regardless of coverage. Giving birth in Norway for citizenship for your baby is only possible if at least one of the parents is Norwegian.

There are many benefits of giving birth in Norway. First, everything is completely covered. Expecting mothers will also receive high-quality care and maternity services. The government also pays you to have children. You may be entitled to the child, parental, and pregnancy benefits.

Having a baby in Norway as a foreigner entitles you to child benefits if:

  • the whole family is residing in Norway and plans on living in the country for at least twelve months;
  • you are a resident in Norway and registered on the Norwegian population register;
  • you have a residence permit or legal residence on other grounds.

In Norway, you have the right to terminate your pregnancy during the first three months. If you wish to have an abortion after twelve weeks, you must apply for permission from a board made up of experts. Doctors and nurses can assist you with your application.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: November 08, 2019
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