Health insurance coverage in Sweden is universal, with residents and nationals alike being eligible to use the public healthcare system. Patients can generally choose where to receive medical treatment and aren’t bound to any particular doctor, hospital or clinic. This includes private facilities which offer publicly funded services.
Sweden’s healthcare system operates on a decentralised basis, with responsibilities being divided up between national, regional and local government bodies. Most healthcare funding comes from regional taxes, so the availability of certain services can differ between county councils based on how much tax the council receives.
Not all medical professionals in public hospitals will be able to speak English, but non-Swedish-speaking patients have the right to be provided with an interpreter by law. Depending on the language requirements, the interpreter may assist with translation on site or via phone or video call.
Urgent cases are given priority in public hospitals, so it can take some time for non-urgent cases to be seen to. There are government policies in place which aim to reduce waiting times and impose limits on how long non-emergency patients can be made to wait for appointments or treatments.
The price of medical care is set by local authorities, so all facilities within the same county council charge the same prices. These prices are generally low as they are government subsidised. There is a strict limit on how much a patient can pay in for healthcare each year, and once this amount is reached, the cost of healthcare for the remainder of the year is covered by the government.
There are a small number of private healthcare providers not affiliated with the government in Sweden. These are uncommon and patients receiving treatment at these facilities will need to pay for it in full.
In practice, there is little or no difference in the quality of public and private treatment. However, privately operated healthcare does allow the patient to fast-track the lengthy waiting periods often experienced in the public sector.
If expats anticipate using one of the private healthcare centres, it is recommended that they invest in comprehensive private insurance to cover costs.