Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My first encounter with Swedish healthcare

Stadshuset and stadshusetparken in Stockholm  |  My first encounter with Swedish healthcare on afeathery*nest  |

I finally got around to trying out this whole national healthcare thing when we recently visited R's family's husläkare (general practitioner). Even though we had our annual physicals before leaving New York, I wanted to get an analysis done here sooner rather than later to get ourselves in the system and see if I've been able to improve my Vitamin D levels over the last few months.

The system is very much like the U.S. in most regards. Before visiting a specialist or doing any tests, you see your general practitioner (ours has his office across the street from the city's gorgeous City Hall, pictured above). When we had a chat with him and explained our request all he had to do was order the blood samples and whatnot for us online, which we could stop by to do whenever we wanted.

The co-payment is the same, too. At the end of our visit we each paid 200kr. (~$25), which covered our appointment with him, as well as all the tests we'll have done. I don't know if that also covers the review of our results (I seem to remember having to pay for that in the U.S.), so that's TBD.

But here's where I was surprised: for such a technologically-advanced country (you can buy an apartment and pay your taxes by text message!), we were each handed a little paper booklet where every appointment is logged via a hand-written notation and a stamp to keep track of your co-pays. In the U.S. that's always tracked via your health insurance provider's website.

The tracking ensures that within a 12-month period you never pay more than 1,100 kr. (~$150), which is the maximum you'll be required to pay out of pocket. So as someone that's not currently working and therefore doesn't have insurance through my company (which doesn't exist here anyway), I will never have to pay more than that every 365 days for routine appointments, check-ups and analyses. That too is much different than in the U.S., where the monthly fee pulled directly from your paycheck before it reaches your bank would quickly surpass that, not to mention the addition of any co-pays.

Procedures require payment of course, though I'm not sure how much, but I'm fairly certain it'll be less than in the U.S. (and besides, things like massages and vacations to somewhere sunny can be prescribed and paid for through medical insurance!).

Another difference from the U.S.? Before we left his office our GP handed us each a plastic vial—you collect your own morning samples at home in the comfort of your bathroom and bring it with you to the lab when you have blood drawn. It seems like there would be lots of room for shenanigans with that kind of system, although I suppose if a drug test was needed for work or the military or something of that nature, rather than your own personal knowledge, you'd have to provide your contribution on the spot instead of toting it from home.

Last week we went to a lab (not the doctor's office), showed our ID, handed over our vials, had blood drawn and were back outside within 10 minutes. Another difference (for the better!) from the long periods I was used to spending in waiting rooms in NYC.

+ + +

More on Swedish healthcare, prenatal care and giving birth in Sweden:

One year ago: Autumnal things: walks and more knits


  1. Sounds a lot easier so far... I've thought about you and wondered about your vit d levels... I'm sure they are back up by now...but I'll want a confirmation! :)

  2. so hard not to love when they're so darn cute!

  3. Thanks, dear! It means so much when something you make is actually used! That's always the fear with handmade gifted goodies—that they'll just languish on a shelf. :)

  4. Much easier! And kind of you to wonder about my Vitamin D levels, ha! Good news confirmed: got results yesterday, I'm back within normal levels, wooo! :)


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note!