HEALTH: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Norway
Going to the doctor is a necessary part of living overseas, but there are a few things you should be aware of before going for a check-up in Norway.
Norway is known for having excellent healthcare, and the medical systems in Scandinavian countries are often held up as examples of what other countries should try and emulate.
Despite that, it's not all plain sailing when visiting a doctor in Norway, and there are often some misconceptions people have and some idiosyncrasies with the system that can be a bit jarring for some.
With that in mind, we've put together a run-down of what you should expect when visiting a doctor in Norway.
You will need to sign up first
You aren't assigned a GP or fastlege automatically, so you will need to sign up for a doctor yourself.
To be eligible for a doctor, you must be living and working in Norway legally. You will be enrolled in the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme if you meet this requirement. Everyone part of this scheme is entitled to healthcare services and a GP by extension.
To find a GP, you will need to head to Norway's digital health portal, helsenorge, and log in. You will need an electronic ID such as Commfides, BankID or Buypass ID to sign in.
Once signed up, you can select the county you are in and see a list of doctors in your local area. The list will have the doctor's name, age and gender, and if a substitute is covering them.
READ MORE: How to register with a doctor in Norway
Visiting a doctor will cost you money
One of the biggest misconceptions about healthcare in Norway is that it's free. It isn't. Instead, residents will need to pay for healthcare at the point of service. However these costs are heavily subsidised through the National Insurance Scheme, and there is a relatively low limit on how much individuals have to pay each year.
A GP appointment will cost 160 kroner during the day and 280 in the evening, a lab test costs 59 kroner, and a consultation with a specialist costs 375 kroner. You can get a full run-down of the fees you can expect to pay during a doctor's visit here.
Language shouldn't be an issue
Norway ranks number 5 out of 112 countries for their English proficiency (English Proficiency Index). This means that you shouldn't put off seeing a doctor because you're worried about the language gap.
Even if you are in more rural parts of the country, you can expect to be able to see a doctor that you can communicate with in English if that would make you feel more comfortable.
Changing your doctor
If, for whatever reason, you want to change your doctor, say you don't gel with them, find it hard to get an appointment or have heard great things about another GP, then you can change your fastlege.
The Norwegian GP system allows for decent flexibility, and you can change your doctor up to two times in one calendar year, for whatever reason you wish.
To make the switch, you'll need to sign into helsenorge and change your doctor there.
READ ALSO: How to switch GPs in Norway
Your medical history isn't automatically available to doctors
When you change GPs in Norway, you'll need to ensure your new doctor has access to your medical records. It is your responsibility to do this, and much like signing up for a new GP, this isn't done automatically.
Having your medical records sent to your new doctor simply involves contacting your former GP surgery and asking them to forward your record to your current practice. Your medical records also contain information from when something has been followed up, for example, notes from a scan or specialist.
If you move from another country, then this may mean either filling in the doctor of your medical history or trying to get your medical history forwarded.
What do The Local's readers think of the medical system
The Local's readers have previously shared their thoughts on the country's healthcare system. Among the positives were competent GPs, excellent quality of treatment, and good quality service.
Waiting times were the biggest issue cited by readers. Respondents to the survey said they either waited a long time for an appointment or to get a GP.