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HEALTH

READERS REVEAL: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

We asked our readers in Norway to share with us their experiences of the Nordic country's healthcare system.

Pictured is a stethoscope
Here's what foreign residents think of the Norwegian healthcare system. Pictured is a stethoscope. Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

Most healthcare in Norway is covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, with residents paying a small service charge for health care costs. For example, a consultation with a GP costs 160 kroner

Once you’ve paid more than 2,460 kroner in approved user fees, then you will receive an exemption card with all treatment covered by the national insurance scheme after that being free. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Overall, 46.2 percent of respondents to our straw poll said that they had bad experiences with the healthcare system, while 15 percent said they had good encounters. The same proportion, 15 percent, answered in the “neither good nor bad experiences” and “very bad experiences” categories, while seven percent said they had very good experiences. 

Among the positive aspects of the Norwegian healthcare system that readers told us about were competent GPs, excellent quality of treatment, good quality service and giving birth. 

“Doctors take the time to explain the situation and solutions. Avoiding antibiotics as much as possible is a great strategy,” George from Lysaker responded. 

Another reader who had broken their ankle praised the healthcare system and the human way in which they were treated. 

“I had an accident, and I seriously broke my ankle, the Norwegian system did the best it could. The people who treated me were polite and very human, they really cared,” the reader wrote. 

May from Ålesund praised the fact that they could get a same-day appointment with their fastlege (GP). However, this wasn’t the case for everyone (see below). 

In an earlier survey on healthcare in the country, readers also praised doctors’ bedside manner and the excellent facilities. 

While one reader praised the short waiting times for a GP, others said they had experienced the opposite. Waiting times were the biggest issue cited by readers, with one person who didn’t want to be named saying they waited a year for neurological testing. 

Anotehr reader said they had waited a long time to be assigned a doctor. 

“I moved from Oslo to Tromsø, and I am currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no slots for a doctor? Everyone has the right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø wrote.

READ MORE: Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

Sivakumar also complained about the lack of appointments. 

“It’s not possible to get an appointment. There is always a waiting time. They are also not proactive in assessment,” Sivakumar added that while identifying issues wasn’t straightforward the care received once the problem was found was exceptional. 

Others said they experienced difficulties accessing GPs.

“Having to constantly contact and chase to book appointments or change appointments, and often having ‘no diagnosis’ or being left to try things without any follow-up (is a problem),” Simon, from Oslo, responded.

What could be improved upon?

There were several things that readers thought could be made better. For example, many want dentistry included in the national insurance scheme, as well as shorter waiting times and cheaper medicines. 

“Free dental healthcare, more efficient diagnosis and treatment and lower cost of medications” were some of the things one reader told us that needed to be improved. 

Simon from Oslo wanted better aftercare. 

“Aftercare and case resolution, not having issues left unknown or untreated. If a diagnosis can’t be made, send me to a specialist and follow up,” he responded when asked what could be better. 

Sinead from Tromsø was among a number of readers who wanted to see more slots for doctors so they could be appointed a GP. 

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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

Norway will raise the language requirements for citizenship in October. Foreign residents in the country have told The Local whether the new rules will put them off applying in the future. 

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

The language requirements for Norwegian citizenship will become stricter from October 1st. The required level will be raised from A2 to B1, in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

For those that register their application and submit it via the online application portal before September 24th but are unable to hand in their documents to the police before October 1st, the UDI will count their application as handed in before the new rules take effect- meaning they are required to pass the language test at A2. 

READ MORE: How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

So, how have those hoping to become a Norwegian citizen in the future taken the news, and do they think the new rule is fair? 

Shortly after the change was announced, The Local ran a survey among readers and subscribers to find out whether they thought the new requirements would put them off applying. The results of the survey delivered a clear “no”. 

Just under 75 percent of readers said that the higher requirements would not put them off applying, while 26.7 percent said that the new rules would deter them from attempting to become a Norwegian citizen in the future. 

Additionally, only one-fifth said that language requirements for citizenship were a bad thing. 

When using social media as a bellwether, you should always exercise caution. Still, even there, most comments and replies to articles announcing the change were reasonably positive towards the change. 

One common thing readers undeterred by the language requirements shared in common is that they felt knowing the language to a certain degree should be expected of a citizen. 

“Knowing the language goes hand in hand with living in a foreign country and certainly with becoming a citizen. If citizenship is important to you, the language must be as well. B1 level is achievable and a reasonable level to expect a citizen to have,” Even, who originally hails from the USA but lives in Vestland County, told The Local. 

Similarly, many felt the requirement for B1 isn’t too demanding, either because by the time they are eligible for citizenship, they should be comfortable at that level or because they feel that the country gives a lot in return. 

“By the time I’ve spent enough time here to apply, the language requirement will not be an issue,” Peter, who has lived in Norway for a year, said. 

Meanwhile, Lester from South Africa wrote: “Norway gives me so much but asks so little in return. A few hundred hours of language training is well worth living in one of the best countries in the world.” 

Others also wrote that B1 was a reasonably attainable level if you put in a couple of hours a week to reach the language requirements.  

However, not everyone felt the same. A common frustration among those who think that the Norwegian language requirements would hamper their chances of becoming a Norwegian citizen was that they thought the new requirements moved the goalposts. 

A reader from Brazil said that the process led them to decide to leave Norway for good.

“This process (applying for citizenship) became so frustrating for me. It was hard for me to pass Norwegian A2 level. Then when everything was ready for me to apply for citizenship, they changed the (residence) rule from 7 to 8 years and now (new) language (requirements). I got totally discouraged and now decided that I will move out of Norway as well,” the reader wrote. 

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