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Seven things foreigners in Norway should know about the health system

Seven things foreigners in Norway should know about the health system
Photo: Eduard Militaru on Unsplash
For those who are planning to or have recently moved to Norway, it would be valuable to know how the health system in your new country of residence works. Here a few key points to be aware of.

Editor’s note: Health provisions related to the Covid-19 pandemic are subject to change. Check with health authorities locally if you are in need of information and unsure about the current situation. Latest news on coronavirus in Norway can be found here.

Insurance is golden

A clean bill of health can suddenly be disrupted by the unplanned, and in most cases, the cost of receiving help is one of the first questions we need answers to.

According to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), if you are legally working or living in Norway, then you have automatically been enrolled in the Norwegian National Health Insurance Scheme. This means all necessary health expenses will be covered by national health insurance. Necessary expenses can include services for primary and mental health, as well as hospital care and select prescription drugs. 

READ ALSO: How to apply for permanent residency in Norway

Private insurance is available

Around 10 percent of the population in Norway has some type of private insurance, according to the Commonweath Fund. Of this 10 percent, 90 percent are policies provided by an employer.

One may ask themselves what is the point of private health insurance in a country with exceptional public health insurance, but there are a few attractive benefits. Private health insurers can offer quicker access to outpatient services and a broader choice of providers. If you need knee surgery for example, it would be covered by public health insurance, but doesn’t guarantee you can get the surgery right away. You may be placed on a long wait list with others who have similar needs.

Surgeries that are done for non-life-threatening issues, such as a knee surgery, can take a while to happen. With private insurance, it is more likely you will get the surgery done at a sooner date. 

You can choose your general practitioner 

While your acceptance into the National Health Insurance Scheme may be automatic, it is up to you to choose your GP. You can choose one at complete random or in accordance to a referral or where you live.

There are a few guidelines to be aware of if you for some reason want to change from your original choice. You are allowed to change your GP up to two times in one year.  You can also choose to change if you officially change your address, or if your GP cuts their patient list. You can find a list of general practitioners at legelisten.no.

What health related issues are not generally covered?

Since the public healthcare system covers such a vast array of services, it might come as a surprise to know that eyecare and dental health are not included in the system. This is a general rule and there are a few exceptions. Children’s dental health is covered by public health care until they are 18 years of age. There is also something called an exemption card, which can be used once you have paid more than a certain amount in user fees.

In addition, there is a list of 15 different dental health conditions that can be covered by the National Insurance Scheme.  A visit to the optometrist can set you back as well, but standard procedures like a sight test are not overwhelmingly expensive.

READ ALSO: Here's what The Local readers think about Norway's hospitals

Paying user fees

Visiting your general practitioner is covered by the public health care insurance, but you are subject to paying a user fee for the visit. As of 2020, the maximum amount you can pay for user fees is 2,460 kroner.

The standard charge for a daytime consultation with your GP would be 160 kroner (15 euros). A visit with a specialist is 375 kroner (35 euros) and a laboratory test, like getting your bloodwork done, costs 59 kroner (6 euros). 

If you are planning on giving birth in Norway

Being pregnant and giving birth in Norway is a process that is followed closely by the mother’s general practitioner (or midwife) and all other parties involved in ensuring both the baby and the parents well-being.

In Norway, it is the mother's right to choose where she would like to give birth. These can include midwifery-led units, hospital maternity wards and specialist clinics. 

The GP or midwife will send the desired birthing centre an application on the mother's behalf. If the mother is denied her first choice, it may be because the birthing centre did not have enough space at around the time of the due date. Alternative options will be offered to choose from.

STD testing is free for those under 25

Like any other country, sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent. In Norway, residents of 25 years of age or younger are offered a free STD test at a clinic as often as they need.

If you are older than 25 but your partner is younger than 25 and has tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease then you are also entitled to a free check. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, clinics have eliminated their drop-in availability at the time of writing and you must schedule an appointment. 

Useful Norwegian Vocabulary 

Helse – health

Lege– doctor

Legevakt– Emergency room 


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