A 2019 survey came to a surprising conclusion – Iceland is the best destination country for expatriates, ahead of Canada, Germany, and Sweden.
What makes this small island just south of the Arctic Circle so popular? It is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and has an extraordinary standard of living. Not only is it prosperous, but it is also not as cold as you expect. Iceland has a more temperate climate than Scandinavia owing to the warm Atlantic currents originating off the coast of Florida, known as Gulf Stream.
The Northern Lights, glaciers, volcanoes, and rugged terrain provide an exotic landscape for nature lovers.
However, before you rush off to buy a new parka and move to Iceland, recognize the need for expat medical insurance to cover any and all healthcare needs during your stay.
Icelandic Public Healthcare System – A Benchmark for Every Developed Nation
The Department of Welfare administers the Icelandic Public Healthcare System. The government funds 85%, and the rest comes from medical fees generated by the system.
It is very similar to the model prevailing in other north European countries—apart from the fact that, due to a tiny population and a gigantic per capita GDP, the system is extremely well funded.
There are seven healthcare regions, with about 60 local primary healthcare centers (heilsugæslustöð) attached to them. The country has two large hospitals, one at Reykjavik and another at Akureyri.
Apart from these, there are other smaller hospitals scattered throughout the country.
The Euro Health Consumer Index of 2015 ranked Iceland’s healthcare system the eighth-best in Europe. Every citizen and long-term resident is required to register with a GP (General Practioner) in their area. Unlike some nations, primary healthcare is available 24 hours a day, and you do not have to visit an emergency room at night if you fall ill. The visit fees for GP have to be met personally.
If the GP refers you to a specialist, you visit one at the nearest general hospital. If you need further help, you visit the two specialized hospitals at Reykjavik and Akureyri.
Inpatient treatment is free of cost. The universal healthcare system provides healthcare free of charge to everyone, including the unemployed, old, and otherwise challenged if they are admitted to hospitals.
New hospitals are being built at Mosfellsbaer and Reykjanesbaer to address the growing need for beds.
Is Iceland's Public Healthcare System Holding Up?
Although it is well funded and able to meet all requirements to be world-class, the Icelandic healthcare system suffers from a fatal flaw – a lack of doctors.
Iceland has no facilities for medical training, and doctors working here are trained at government expense in Europe. That is why there is a lack of specialists in the country.
Why is this important?
Because medical diagnosis is frequently not very clear cut, and knowledge is often institutional and passed down through generations of experts. If you need a second or third opinion about, for example, a complicated case of psoriasis that would not go away with a steroid cream, there are not too many dermatologists who can help you out in Iceland. The same is true for other specializations, also.
Iceland Expat Medical Insurance – Defray Expenses with No Worry
Icelandic private healthcare is nonexistent. That is quite natural since the population is too small for viable operations. However, the public healthcare in Iceland is not completely free. Treatment as an outpatient has to be paid for. Medication is subsidized but not free.
That is why you should seriously consider buying expatriate medical insurance coverage before you travel.
What are the factors that you should look for in such a policy? Let’s take a peek.
The total fee for admission to a hospital is made of several components – bed charges, OT hire charges, doctors' fees, nurses' fees, administration, medication, and others. One of these is disposable items that are single-use, such as injection syringes and IV lines. The cost of these disposables is not met by a few private medical insurance companies. Although it does not amount to much for a weeklong stay, you will need coverage if you are hospitalized longer. Therefore, buy a policy that is generous about the deductibles.
Medical insurance does make a few into hypochondriacs. Since all expenses are paid for, many citizens like nothing better than frequent checkups. To keep the premium low, insurance companies have introduced what is known as co-payment. This is a system of sharing payment between the patient and the insurer. The usual portion paid by the patient is 10% to 30% of the net bill, after deductibles.
The lower the percent of co-pay, the more helpful it is for you. A bill of $100,000 might mean you end up paying $30,000 under a less considerate plan. It is possible to bargain quite a bit. Nations that offer good public healthcare, such as Iceland, require less copay from insurers.
It is a long flight from Reykjavik to Paris or London. How do you know if you should take a couple of days off work and visit a doctor outside Iceland? From your medical report, of course. But you won't understand the local dialect, and English is not popular in Iceland. The only option is to have translation services paid for by medical insurance coverage that allows you to make a well-considered decision.
For most insurance policies, this comes as an add-on rider. But a few extra dollars would help you save a long flight and sick leave.
Be Your Best Self with Expat Medical Insurance
There is no need to wince at the thought of buying expat health insurance if you are packing your bags and getting a visa.
Take advantage of our services, and purchase the most affordable plans with a mouse click. We ease the process of finding relevant expat insurance plans and then comparing them objectively.
Add in our trusty customer service, and you’ll never need to worry an iota about your health when you are at the top of the world and close to the Arctic Circle.