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Registering for healthcare in Sweden
Healthcare is regulated by the central government, and implemented by local county councils. This means that different counties have slightly different systems and rules. So as an expat, it’s good to know how to access your local services, in case you need to.
To register with a local doctor, you’ll need to visit your local health centre or ‘vårdcentraler’. You can choose any centre you like, it just needs to be within your county. However, many centres have a waiting list just to register, and are only open on weekdays between 8am, and 5pm (centres in some counties have longer opening hours). Therefore once you’ve got a residence permit, it’s worth registering with your chosen ‘vårdcentraler’ as early as you can. But if you need medical treatment before you get your premit and want to avoid paying full price, you’ll either need an EHIC card (for EU residents) or private medical insurance to cover the costs.
Seeing a specialist
If you need to see a specialist in Sweden, your doctor will write a referral summarising your medical history, and your current symptoms. Until you’re seen by the most relevant person, your doctor is still responsible for your care. Swedish law states that you’ll see a specialist within 90 days of your referral, but in reality, about 1 in 3 people actually wait longer. The waiting time for these appointments is one of the biggest challenges faced by the Swedish healthcare system, along with accessing public healthcare2.
Through the public system, treatment is often subsidised, so there are still small fees to pay (if you’re under 16 you won’t have to pay these). For example, seeing specialist can cost you approximately 400 SEK3.