The Swedish Health System

Although nobody wants to think about being sick, some of you, especially the ones coming for a one-or two-year Master or a three-year program might wonder how the Swedish health system works compared to  the system in your home country. I have to admit I had no clue until I got sick. First of all,  if you are a EU citizen you are insured over your EU insurance card. In the case of staying more than a year and getting a personal number you are also automatically insured in the Swedish health insurance. In case you are not from a EU country but you have a personal number, you are as well insured in the Swedish health insurance. For Non-EU residents without a personal number, which implies students from a NON-EU country staying for less than a year, the university provides a basic insurance, nevertheless this insurance only applies for emergencies, otherwise you have to pay your bills yourself.

In case you are getting sick, the procedure is to ring your nearest “Vårdcentral”, in case of students living in student accommodation this will be the one at Jakobsgårdana, which can be translated with care center. After ringing their phonenumber and leaving your details they will ring you back, giving you the chance to talk about your symptoms and then decide if you need a doctor’s appointment. If you are given an appointment you will go to Vårdcentral, best to be there a little earlier since you first need to proceed to their reception and pay 150 SEK fee. You have to pay this fee every time you visit a doctor, nevertheless, if you reached a sum of 1100 SEK in a year you will get a “free card” which states that you don´t have to pay the fee for a year from the start of your first treatment. So, you will not get poor even if you are sick a lot.

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If you get sick during weekends or have any kind of emergency you can ring the number 1177, this is the central number for medical advice. You can also directly go to the ambulance in the hospital, mostly you will need to go to Falun for this, since the hospital in Borlänge is much smaller, anyways it is a good idea to ring 1177 before, I once went to Falun just to be told that I should have been going to Borlänge and sent back there. You might need to wait quite some time in these ambulances, depending on how many people are waiting. These visits might be a bit more expensive, I got charged 250 for my last visit in the hospital at the weekend but still quite a fair fee I would say.

If you are working in Sweden besides your studies and you are getting sick you can stay at home the first week without a sick certificate and will receive 80 % of your salary from your employer from the second day on. After two weeks, the health insurance will take over these costs. In case of an accident at work, the work insurance will also cover your expenses for doctor visits and medicine.

I recommend to ring 1177 first whenever you need medical advice, this number by the way is the same in whole Sweden, you will get help and advice what to do. Some of you might be a bit surprised, I always explain it to myself with the fact that we are in a Viking country, you might ring with a flu and you get the advice to stay at home and buy some nose spray and Paracetamol (Alvedon) until you feel better and ring back if you are still sick after a week. You also might get antibiotics much easier in your country, in Sweden this is a bit more restricted, which might be frustrating for you in some cases, on the other hand studies have shown that often antibiotics have been prescribed too fast and you might develop a resistance against antibiotics.

Generally, since Sweden is a very technology-oriented country you can expect very modern treatments and facilities. Anyways, i hope none of you has to experience the Swedish health system, being sick is just no fun at all.

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