The Scandinavian nation of Norway is the northernmost European country and one of the wealthiest in the world. The standard of living is very high, mostly due to huge offshore petroleum reserves. Oslo, the capital of Norway and home to the vast majority of the nation's 5 million residents, has the highest per capita concentration of Tesla cars in the world – a testament to the nation's economic prowess.
Though its weather is bitterly cold, Norway is a favorite destination for expats due to low unemployment and gorgeous Arctic landscapes. Before moving to Norway, you need to understand the Norwegian healthcare system and why it would be beneficial to have Norway expatriate health insurance to enjoy your stay.
Norway's Public Healthcare – Universal Healthcare for All
Most of Norway's healthcare system is paid for by the public exchequer. Anyone below the age of 16 can receive treatment completely free of cost. Anyone above 16 needs to have an exemption card, which is paid for by an additional tax on income taxes.
Ever since the sweeping hospital reforms of 2002, all the public hospitals are run by four Regional Health Authorities. Every resident of Norway is registered with a fastledge – or General Practitioner. A fastledge is the primary healthcare provider who advises visits to public hospitals and consultation with specialists.
Each citizen is responsible for a limited expenditure of 2,000 Norwegian kroner (about $210 USD). The healthcare system compensates any amount exceeding this. The advantage of the system is everyone has to pay a little bit—thus eliminating unnecessary visits—while making sure that no severe problem goes untreated. The system is administered by Helfo (short for Helseøkonomiforvaltningen, or Norwegian Health Economics Administration), which has a tidy annual budget of 35 billion kroner for 5 million citizens.
Drawbacks of Norwegian Public Healthcare
A study conducted by Health at a Glance revealed that up to 50% of patients had to wait more than four weeks to consult a specialist. The Norwegian Health Department's internal survey has shown that the average wait time to start treatment was 60 days during the first quarter of 2017.
This is hardly an optimal situation for anyone who requires treatment quickly and efficiently. Being an expat usually means having to bear certain unavoidable fixed costs such as rent, which necessitates regular cash flow. Any pause in income due to illness may cause financial distress.
The Need for Norway Expat Health Insurance
Though very few in Norway subscribe to private insurance, it nevertheless exists. As an expat, you would do well to take advantage of expat medical insurance for your stay in Norway. As we have seen, the Norwegian public healthcare system is excellent, but there are long wait times. Uncertain doctor’s appointments in a foreign country are scary to live with.
There are certain other factors to be aware of, particularly if you are a non-EU citizen.
Healthcare in neighboring countries
Travel inside the Schengen Area of Europe is visa-free. There are no checkpoints between countries. Most businesses in northern Europe have branches in other Scandinavian countries—Sweden and Finland—that you may be required to visit often.
Since there is no all-inclusive EU public healthcare system and you would thus be unable to take advantage of reciprocal treaties, it is crucial that you purchase private health insurance before settling in Norway.
By ferry across the North Sea, Norway is just an hour away from mainland Europe. It is quite impossible to live in Scandinavia and not visit the rest of northern and central Europe during long three-day weekends. During these trips, you need to be covered by a private insurer. Healthcare in neighboring Denmark and Germany are quite expensive for non-EU citizens and not easily paid out of pocket.
The medical reports at Norwegian public healthcare facilities would be written in the local dialect. Most medical staff are not fluent in English. It is one thing to get lost in Oslo and ask directions in broken English and Norwegian. It is quite another to understand what treatment your L1 disc compression requires.
Private healthcare and insurance come with translation services. This allows you to understand the gravity of the situation and let you decide if you would like to get treatment and continue to live in Norway, receive treatment in nearby Germany (with its advanced medical technology and vast expertise), or return to your home country.
This brings us to the most essential aspect of private insurance: evacuation and repatriation. Treatment in France or Germany—or even the UK, if you prefer your doctors to converse in English—requires medical evacuation. It would be nice to leave these options open, and it makes sense to do so through expat medical insurance.
Essential Features for Norway Expat Insurance
Coverage Area: If you wish to live in Norway, you will at least need pan-Europe coverage. For a non-U.S. citizen, a worldwide policy excluding the U.S., Canada and the Far East is ideal. This allows you to travel for work or leisure but not have to worry about buying travel insurance every time you set foot outside Norway.
Pre-existing Conditions: These are prior chronic conditions that cause hospitalization. A case in point is a cataract. Since cataracts cannot develop overnight but take 2-4 years, an insurance company might refuse payment if you file a claim for cataract surgery after three months in Norway. All insurance companies are required by law to declare their treatment policy for pre-existing conditions. Review the available policies to find one that suits your current physical condition.
Deductibles and Copay – Insurance might not cover the cost of disposables such as molly sheets, syringes, IV lines, cannula, etc. You need to examine the items on the list. Most are not very expensive, but over the course of a long hospital stay, these small expenses can add up to quite a bit. The same stands for co-pay or partial payment by you. This could vary from 10 to 30% across policies.
Of course, as stated before, English translation and repatriation are indispensable among essential features.
How to Access the Best Norway Expat Health Insurance
Nowadays, buying from an agent is not the best choice. They tend to push policies that gain them the most commission. With us, you can find all the policies that you could use, view them side by side, compare their features, and buy in less than an hour. You can view all of your options for yourself and decide which expatriate health insurance plan best fits your needs.
With this type of convenience and customer service at your disposal 7 days a week, you would be able to enjoy your stay in Norway, work as an expat, and enjoy the Northern Lights illuminating the night sky without any worry.