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The healthcare system in Denmark

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When it comes to moving country, healthcare is always a main concern. Denmark's social welfare system and high standard of healthcare, however, should put your mind at ease.  

Denmark's healthcare system

The Danish healthcare system comprises primary care and secondary care sectors. Health services provided by the public healthcare system are free of charge for all legal residents of Denmark, though expats can opt for additional private health insurance should they so wish

Primary care providers are the first points of contact for general health problems. Family doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors, dentists, and psychologists are some examples of primary care practitioners.

Secondary care covers more specialized treatments and hospital care. Hospital and specialist visits usually require the referral of a general practitioner.

CPR number and yellow card

To be a part of Danish society, including receiving healthcare benefits, you need a CPR (Central Person Register) number. EU and EEA nationals staying more than six months and non-European nationals staying more than three months have to register at the nearest Borgerservice or International Citizen Service center to get a CPR number. As of June 2017, residents of the Greater Copenhagen Area must apply online. With the CPR number, you will be issued a sundhedskort, also known as a health insurance card or yellow card. The yellow card is proof of insurance and gives you access to the public health services.

To apply for the yellow card, you will have to bring the following documents:

  • Work and residence permit (except EU/EEA, Nordic, and Swiss citizens)
  • Employment contract
  • Passport or national identity card
  • Proof of Danish address
  • If applicable:
    • documentation for name changes (marriage/divorce certificate, etc.)
    • children’s birth certificates
    • marriage certificate

You will receive your new health card in the post within a few weeks of application.

Choosing your doctor

When you register for your CPR number and yellow card, you will be asked to choose a doctor, whose address will be listed the yellow card. This is the doctor you will see for any and all problems requiring medical advice.

You can change doctors for a fee of DKK 195. Changing doctors without fee can happen in the following circumstances:

  • Your doctor closes or splits their practice
  • You move
  • You turn 15 and want to change

Medical consultation

To have a consultation with your doctor, you will need an appointment. If the issue is non-emergency in nature, there may be a waiting period. In the case of more acute illness, there is often a chance to be seen on the same day or within a couple of days, provided you are willing to see any doctor in the practice. Medical practices are generally open from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Visits to the doctor are free of charge provided you have your yellow insurance card. Visits to specialists are also free of charge if you have been referred by your doctor. Some services are not covered or are only partially covered under the public care system. Additional insurance can be purchased to cover services not covered by the public policy.  

Emergency

In case of emergency or the need for immediate medical treatment, you should call Denmark’s emergency call center at 112. All operators speak English, and you will be sent some form of help immediately.

If you choose to go directly to the emergency room, you may have to call first to be accepted, depending on the region in which you live. If they do not recommend a hospital visit, they will give you advice on what to do next.

When you need a doctor out of normal clinic hours (nights, weekends, public holidays), you can call your region’s lægevagt service. This will put you in contact with an on-call doctor in your area. You will have to give your CPR number as well as some information regarding your current condition.

Pharmacies and medication

Most pharmacies have opening hours Monday to Saturday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. (1:00 or 2:00 p.m. on Saturday). Some pharmacies also remain on call at night.

If you have been recommended medication by your doctor, the prescription will be sent directly to the pharmacy. You will scan or show your yellow card at the pharmacy, and they will be able to see what medication to get for you.

Over-the-counter medicines are available at pharmacies and other authorized distributors such as convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations.

 Useful links:

Patienterstatningen – The Patient Compensation Association
Ministry of Health
Danish Medicines Agency
Sundhed – Danish Public Health Portal

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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