The Finland healthcare system is a universal healthcare system rated among the top best healthcare systems in the world.
Finland has over the years focused on the prevention of diseases and through health promotion and awareness, there has been a significant impact on the eradication of certain communicable diseases and improvement in the health of the general population.
The quality of service in Finland’s healthcare system is great compared to that of most countries in the work.
According to a 2000 survey published by the European Commission, Finland belongs to the top five countries in satisfaction: 88% of Finnish respondents were satisfied, compared with the EU average of 71%.
Introduction to Finland health care system
The Finland healthcare system can be considered a success because of several factors. For instance, due to public health interventions and progress in medical care, there has been an outstanding improvement in life expectancy for decades.
In 2009, Finland was recorded to have 2.7 practicing physicians for every 1000 individuals compared to a nurse ratio of 9.6 nurses to 1000 individuals.
This can partly be explained by the importance placed on the use of nurses, who greatly reduce the need for practicing physicians.
Finland is considered outstanding particularly in regards to specialized medical care and the coverage of its screening and vaccination programs. Finland has a very comprehensive screening program for breast cancer where 84% of women, aged 50 to 69 years, annually take part.
Lower fertility rates and an aging population, due to increased life expectancy, brings new challenges to the Finnish health care system.
Structure of Finland healthcare system
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health directs and guides the development and policies of social protection, social welfare, and health care.
Due to the decentralized public administration of Finland’s healthcare system, municipalities decide how the local services are provided.
Every municipality has a responsibility to offer health care services to their residents and it is usually provided in municipal health care centers and/or municipal hospitals. In addition to municipal health care services, employers must offer occupational healthcare services to their workers.
Private hospital groups offer primary and secondary care services but they may also refer patients to the university hospitals or to community hospitals run by the local municipality for specialist care and treatment.
Some part of the costs incurred in the use of private medical providers can be reclaimed from the government social insurance institution KELA but this is never 100%.
The Finnish universal health care system implores that access to hospital care is subject to a request from a general practitioner.
Primary care is obtained from the health care centers employing general practitioners and nurses that provide most day-to-day medical services.
The general practitioners are also gatekeepers to the more specialized services in the secondary and tertiary care sectors, as a referral from primary care providers is necessary to receive care on the secondary and tertiary levels.
For secondary care, Finland is geographically divided into 21 hospital districts and each district provides more specialized care for the municipalities within its region.
Finland also has a network of five university teaching hospitals which makes up the tertiary level. These contain the most advanced medical equipment and facilities in the country funded by the municipalities; however, the national government meets the cost of medical training.
Finland healthcare system funding
The healthcare system receives funding from two sources. Municipal financing is based on taxes and is used to provide primary healthcare services.
Municipalities fund the health centers on the primary care level and regional hospitals on the secondary care level.
National Health Insurance (NHI) is based on compulsory fees and it is used to fund private healthcare, occupational healthcare, outpatient drugs, and sickness allowance.
Regional and university hospitals are financed by federations of participating municipalities, often using the diagnosis-related group system.
Costs of Public Healthcare in Finland healthcare system
The Finland healthcare system makes healthcare services available to everyone in Finland, regardless of their financial situation, which is one of the benefits of the universal health care system.
Public health services are mainly financed from tax revenues; partly municipal, partly state tax. The central government’s contribution to municipal healthcare is determined by population numbers, age structures, and morbidity statistics.
Finland spends less than 7% of its gross national product on healthcare, one of the lowest among EU member states. The public sector finances 76% of total healthcare expenditure, users of services 20%, and others 4%.
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Medical School in Finland
There are 5 recognized universities in Finland that offer basic medical education. All medical schools have research programs for students who wish to undertake scientific work.
During the clinical period of their courses, students participate in the work of various hospital and health center departments, learning necessary medical skills.
After each clinical course, students have to pass a final examination in the specialty. Basic medical education lasts for some six and a half years and leads to the degree of Licentiate of Medicine.
A large number of programs in Finland are offered in English, especially at the Master’s level. However, undergraduate studies are mostly conducted in Finnish.
The cost to study in Finland
Finland is among the top countries with free healthcare and colleges. College in Finland is free for students hailing from the European Union. Medical school lasts six years in Finland. It leads to the degree of Licentiate in Medicine.
However, starting in 2017, international undergraduate students wishing to earn degrees in English will pay a minimum of 1,500 EUR per year (approximately $1,776 per year), though many universities charge far more depending on the degree level and program of study.1 2
However, doctoral students no matter what country they are from as well as those pursuing their studies in Finnish still pay no tuition.
Finland’s Healthcare system consists of a highly decentralized three-level publicly funded healthcare system and a much smaller private sector, which offers its residents universal healthcare.
One ought to also consider the cost of living when studying in Finland, for instance, food in Finland is 20% more expensive than the rest of most countries in Europe.
Access to Finland’s Healthcare System
There are different routes to access the healthcare system in Finland, but the two common routes are;
- Kela Card
- EHIC Card in Finland
Kela Card (Finnish Social Security and Health Insurance Card)
All residents of Finland should have their Kela Card issued to prove their eligibility for social security and National Health Insurance in Finland.
Kela Card also gives discounts for buying medicines. However, it is only available to persons moving to Finland on permanent status.
EHIC Card in Finland
Citizens of the European U, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are entitled to public healthcare upon provision of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
If you are not from the European Union, you should obtain either travel or international health insurance before visiting Finland to use private healthcare services.
European Union citizens moving to Finland can also obtain international insurance if they prefer to use private services.
Visiting a Specialist in Finland
If one requires hospital admission or specialist care in Finland, a referral letter from your family doctor would be required.
As earlier mentioned, Finland is divided into 21 hospital districts. Each district provides more specialized care for the municipalities within its region.
Finland health care ranking
According to Worldpopulationreview, Finland comes in the 31st position in the world healthcare ranking. A good and reliable healthcare system can never be neglected and through the treatment (or prevention) of illness, injury, disease, and other physical or mental impairments personal health is maintained, and life expectancy increased.
It is also noted that Finland stands among the countries with the best health care system globally. BAV Group/Wharton School (2020)
Does the healthcare system contribute to making Finland a happy country?
Finland has a universal health care system which is a significant factor in how happy its citizens feel.
With a low crime rate, a good healthcare system, and a welcoming employment rate, most Fins tend to have a high standard of living and to feel content in their daily lives.
What are the top causes of death in Finland?
Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and nervous system disorders are leading causes of death in Finland.
Heart diseases are the leading cause of death, followed by Alzheimer’s and other dementias and stroke. Many deaths formerly assigned to pneumonia are now classified as deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and cardiovascular diseases.
Finland has a population of over 5 million people which are covered by this Finland healthcare system. The government and different organizations strive in having the name of Finland written boldly among the best healthcare systems in the world.
This system of healthcare service delivery wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the impacts of the health care workers ranging from but are not limited to the physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and scientists.
With collective and collaborative efforts this health care system keeps growing from strength to strength.
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