The healthcare system in Norway

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Updated 2021-01-08 13:39

The Norwegian healthcare system is arguably one of the best in the world. Like in most Nordic countries, it has a municipal structure, which means that the kind of treatments and doctors available to you may vary depending on the kommune you’re in. It is not completely free, meaning that a part of your salary is being withheld for healthcare like it happens with taxation – but there is a limit on how much you can pay per year.

Are you entitled to healthcare in Norway?

As mentioned above, Norway's healthcare system is municipal ' so to use its services you need to be registered in Folkeregister (the National Register) as a resident of your local municipality. But if you're already working in Norway, don't worry: registration happens automatically the moment you start paying taxes (so when you receive your first month's salary). Once you're registered, you are officially a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme (NIS), and you have to contribute about 8 % of your gross income annually towards healthcare. But once again, everything happens automatically and your contribution is deducted along with the tax deduction. As a member of NIS, you are entitled to all health service benefits provided by NAV, Norway's public welfare agency. These benefits include treatment by a doctor, a psychologist, or funds toward medicines and procedures.

Good to know:

If you're an EU citizen, your European Health Insurance Card is valid in Norway. Your card entitles you to healthcare on the same terms as NIS members, and you are not required to pay any more fees.

How the system works

As an NIS member, you get:

  • all costs associated with childbirth, covered
  • all costs associated with treatment of children under 16 years old, covered
  • all costs associated with treatment of work-related injuries, covered
  • general healthcare costs, partially covered (you have to participate with a small fee for GP appointments and prescription medicines).

First, you have to log in to the Helse Norge ' Norway's online hub about health, where you can find information about doctors, hospitals, and your rights as a patient. On the website, you can find a fastlege (GP) who's working within your municipality and register with them. You can choose the one you want as long as they have room on their list for more patients ' the GPs usually have an agreement with the municipality over the number of patients they can take on. Your GP, once you register with them, will be responsible for your examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prescribing medicine or referring you to a specialist (Please note that unless it's an urgent issue, it might take months to be able to see a specialist.) If you're not happy with your GP, you can switch to a new one up to twice a year.

Then, all you need to do is call up and make an appointment at your local clinic where your GP works. Many doctors speak English, but not all ' so if you don't speak Norwegian and you're unsure, you can call ahead and ask for an interpreter to accompany you (it is within your rights).

Good to know:

You will be charged a small fee to see your doctor (around 180 NOK) but once you've reached 2,000 NOK's worth of appointments, you will get an exemption card for the rest of the year.

If your GP prescribes medication, you will need to pay a small fee to get it from the pharmacy, depending on whether your type of prescription is considered 'blue' or 'white". Blue prescriptions cover chronic illness or treatment that lasts for three or more months per year; in this case, you will have to pay 39% of the cost of the drugs. If your prescription is white, you will have to pay the full amount (up to 1775 NOK yearly).

If you need emergency care or had an accident, you can visit the nearest emergency room ' call 116 117 to find the nearest one. Emergency healthcare is 100% covered by NIS.

Private health insurance in Norway

To benefit from optimised health coverage, foreign nationals are advised to subscribe for private international health insurance before moving to Norway.

There are many insurance companies to choose from in Norway, according to your needs and budget. Some of the leading health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on Expat.com's Health Insurance for expatriates in Norway page.

Useful link:

Helse Norge: Information for foreigners in Norway

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