Health insurance

Which health insurance do you need in Finland?

Health insurance in Finland is largely based around the mandatory public health insurance system and Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme in Finland is part of the social security system. If you are covered by the Finnish NHI you are automatically entitled to subsidised fees for the following:

  • Treatment from private doctors
  • Private dental care
  • Prescribed medication
  • Transportation and accommodation costs related to private health care

All costs incurred from private health treatment must be paid independently by the patient at first. Any claims for reimbursement are done separately after the initial payment has been made.

The NHI scheme also compensates employees who have been unable to work due to illness and have therefore missed out on income. Allowances for sickness can be on either a full or partial basis.

Who is covered under the NHI scheme?

As a general rule, all permanent residents of Finland are covered under the NHI scheme. Employees and self-employed people are also likely to be covered by the scheme.

Coverage under the Finnish social security system must be applied for if you are moving to Finland permanently. You can find all application forms on the Kela website .

Kela will make a decision as to whether or not they consider your residence in Finland to be permanent. Signs of permanent residence in Finland include:

  • Return migration to Finland
  • Employment in Finland lasting at least 2 years
  • Marriage or close familial relationship with a person already residing in Finland

Student health insurance in Finland

If you are moving to Finland on a temporary basis (to study, for example) you are generally not covered by the scheme. The only exception is for citizens of other Nordic countries, provided they are recorded in the Finnish population register as being resident in Finland.

Health insurance for EU citizens

EU citizens are generally not covered by the scheme due to a reciprocal agreement between EU member states regarding health insurance. Instead, EU citizens only need to present their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) to receive medical treatment.

If you are not a permanent resident of Finland or your home country is not subject to any reciprocal agreement with Finland, you are not covered by the social security system. One of the conditions of applying for a residence permit is that you have already secured sufficient health insurance from your home country before you arrive in Finland.

If you move away from Finland for more than a year it is likely that you will lose your entitlement to be covered by the NHI scheme. However this does not apply employees in Finland who have been sent to work abroad by their employer.

If you are moving abroad you must also hand in your Kela card before you leave the country.

The Kela card and reimbursement

All permanent residents of Finland receive a personal health insurance card called a Kela card. You must present this card at pharmacies or private medical clinics in order to obtain immediate reimbursement for your medical costs, either on a full or partial basis.

You are also likely to need to show some form of photographic identification (i.e. a passport) as well as receipts for any treatments you are claiming for.

Your Kela card will be sent to you free of charge provided you are covered by the Finnish social security system.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here:

Other comments

  • Isaac, 09 February 2011 Reply

    Is Finnish healthcare mandatory?

    The proposed American government-run healthcare has an "individual mandate." Does Finland have a similar program, or is the healthcare program opt-in?