Free health care in Norway. Almost perfect…

As you may or may not know, health care in Norway is (almost) free. Yes, I know this is hard to believe for most people. Norway was originally supposed to be included in the Michael Moore movie ‘Sicko‘ on the workings/failing of health care systems on this planet, but he decided to take it out because the system has several similarities with the French health care system, and some parts just sounded too good to be true…
Some examples: Any treatment & examinations connected to a pregnancy are 100% free. From the very first check until the delivery: no cost at all! (and after the birth, a year of maternity leave for the mother, and a minimum of 6 weeks for the father!).
Norwegian patients treated for an illness like psoriasis or rheumatism are eligible for two weeks paid vacation at a spa in the Canary Islands. Norway hires a government ethicist to determine who they should spend their money on, because they want to do it in an ethical way.

Well, today it was my turn to experience the ‘free’ health care system in Norway.
Free is not 100% accurate since doctors do charge for their consults (NOK 160, US$ 29), and you are charged for your medication, but there is a max. of NOK 1740 (about US$315) a year. (I am not sure whether this amount is the same for all, or whether it’s based on your income…) If my health care expenses were to be more than that, the government would pick up the tab.

I went to see the doctor to have my ears checked (yes, I am herewith admitting I have a selective hearing) 😛
I arrived at 1:40pm, right on time for my 1:45pm appointment. Or so I thought…
The waiting room was quite full, but since it’s a collective office of 3 doctors, I wasn’t too worried. I had to wait until 2:30pm until it was eventually my turn. That 45 mins. wait wasn’t too bad compared to some of the stories I heard in the waiting room of people who had to wait 3-4 hours on previous visits…!
Now I do not know how it is nowadays in the Netherlands (where I grew up), but when I was young (25 years ago) I hardly ever had to wait. Every time I had a doctors appointment the doctor was all mine on the scheduled time. But perhaps this has changed as well…
Anyway… After the wait I was welcomed by my doctor to whom I explained why I was there. One of his first questions was whether I had had this specific problem before. That question proved to me that he had not looked at my medical records, because then he would have seen that my last visit to him, a couple of years ago, was for exactly the same reason as today’s visit…!
After a quick but thorough check I was handed off to a nurse/assistant (no waiting time there) who would carry out some ‘ear maintenance’. Even though the doctor told her that my left ear was a lot worse than my right ear, she decided to do my right ear first. Perhaps because it was on her left side? 😉
But I shouldn’t be complaining about the order in which she did my ears, since the result was the same: my hearing is back to 100% (well, I guess not 100%… not many 35-year olds still have 100% hearing…)
She then handed me a test kit and parked me in the examining room of the doctor where I was to wait until he was done with the patient he was taking care of in the mean time. In those 5 minutes I had time to check out the test kit I was given. It turned out to be a FOBT! My first thought was… yup, you guessed it… SHIT! 😉
My second thought of course was that it must be a mistake… Which it turned out to be, when I asked the doctor. He said that he probably ‘pressed a wrong key’. Can I conclude from this that all Norwegian doctors have a dedicated poop-test key on their keyboards? 😉
So I returned him the test kit and he did another thorough check of my hearing to make sure the nurse/assistant had done her job well (which she had).
Then he gave me a green card on which the doctors keep track of charges, in this case my NOK 160 for the medical consult, so that when I hit the NOK 1740 I do not have to pay more than that. I paid the man, and left.
However… when I got home, I took a closer look at the card. The amount on it was correct, but not the name! And not just misspelled, but my card contained the name and the fødselsnummer (birth number, a national identification number) of someone else! A serious blooper, since these national identification numbers are supposed to be kept confidential. I just hope he did not give some complete stranger a green card with my number on it… :-/

All in all, a first-class experience, with some (computer-related?) bloopers that could have been prevented.
I’m not writing this entry to put down the Norwegian health care system. I probably have a doctor who either has too many patients, or just had an off-day. I mean, it could have been worse… If he’d told the nurse/assistant to do a rectal exam instead of handing me a test kit! 😉

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50 Responses to “Free health care in Norway. Almost perfect…

  • stgeorge
    5 years ago

    Interesting.
    Just one thing: the nurse “cleaned” your ears by simply injecting a water using a syringe?
    Thank you.

  • I think if you live in Norway you really should be “healthy” cause if you are not then you must be prepared to wait days and in some cases months. Even to see your GP takes sometimes a week because GPs are always fully booked. If you need to see a specialist it is even more complicated then because you need to see your GP and GP should send you a specialist. So add 1 week probably plus some weeks (one of my friend could get appointment for a gynecologist 6months after the date) and even months. So please try to not to be “UNHEALTHY” in Norway.

    Plus it is not free healthcare really, you need to pay up to around 2.000NOK for each doctor visit plus medicine, after that number you get free health care.

  • Mohammad
    6 years ago

    Dear,
    I’m Mohammad 31 from Iran, dad of a recently two-year old boy named Benjamin who was born in 2010/03/10 while he was only 500 grams and his mother –was 25 & in her 32nd week of pregnancy. After being in an incubator for 56 days we took him home. He still can’t sit on his own and can’t crawl as well. Although as Doctors say he is not CP but they name him Motor Delay type. We really feel can’t do any more things for him in here (Iran) I really ask you for help and guidance even visiting experts or recommended doctors by you. If I should send you anymore information about Ben and his mother – mine if necessary- please let me now. We are hopefully looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you in advance.

    Sincerely yours,
    Mohammad

  • Hello people! Healthcare in Norway IS NOT FREE! Norwegians pay anywhere between 40-50% taxes and that is how healthcare if funded.

    • Well… You pay the same amount of tax, whether or not you actively use the healthcare system in Norway. So in that way you could argue that healthcare is free…

  • Cheryl Empson
    7 years ago

    I happened across this forum and decided to put my 2 cents in.
    Actually I was searching about Norway because I am half Norwegion and thought maybe I should go there?

    I had to have an emergency surgery in January. Had a large portion of colon removed. But before they would admit me, they made me apply for Medicaid which of course I am not eligible as the state I am in, you have to be disabled or blind or have children that are disabled. Anyway by applying for Medicaid it then goes to the County and the State and although I didnt know it when you sign the dotted line it immediately puts a lien on your Name. So now when I die they will get any equity in my house if there is any, or my inheritance. the bill was $77,000.00 for three days in the hospital and the surgery. They said I would be charged Medicaid rates and no interest but after several months I still can’t find out what I really owe……probably around $50,000.00
    My house already has two liens and won’t be paid for for 19 years but I guess they are willing to wait.

    I look forward to getting 65 so I can get Medicare ( I am almost 62)
    But it was depressing to read a statement above someone saying they still had alot of medical debt with Medicare.

    I hate this country. It is run by corporate greed and the medical system is run by those people who pay off our politicians and pay for their campaigns to help keep out National Health care.
    We did not get National health care. Maybe in 2014 but by then I will get Medicare. They will have a system by then for poor people to get medicaid but I bet you can’t have a house to live in etc.
    Well……..thanks for listening tome. I do like Obama but he is fighting a fight against those with billions of dollars and the money always gets what it wants.

    My great grandmother was Anna Tangen and I guess the Germans came in and took everything she had in World War 11
    and no one knows what happened to her. Grandfather stowed away on a hospital ship when a teen and came to America and heard he changed his name and that was to Ole Hagen.

    That is about all I know. Perhaps someday I can visit Norway.
    I am probably too old to get citizenship……doesnt sound like they like old people there lol but who knows.

    • You hate this country? Then you should leave, period. Listen to yourself. What you just said is you were very sick, you went to the hospital, they made you fill out some paperwork, then they saved your life. You did not pay anything, you signed your name. If you did not pay, then that means someone else paid for you!!! You are not happy with the outcome? So when you are gone, if you have anything, they will recover a portion of the money to pay for a legitimate service that saved your pathetic life.

      Let’s look at this again. They saved your life, it did not cost you anything. You ungrateful old bastard. You should realize in Norway they would have refused treatment to you based on age and you would be dead. I witnessed this first hand, and my friends are not poor, they are upper middle class with savings.

      You are looking forward to turning 65 so you can get free healthcare? Does nobody want to be self sufficient anymore? I understand we have to have safety nets to catch people when they fall and help them get back on their feet. However when it becomes an entitlement lifestyle, you are pathetic.

      It is very simple. Everything you get in life that you did not earn is paid for by someone else. What makes you so special that you feel you someone else should pay for the service that saved your life? In most countries in this world, you would be dead. And you hate this country? Unbelievable.

      • Tom Joad
        7 years ago

        He owes $50-$77K, how is that someone else paying it for him? Very few of us have the financial capital to move to another state much less another country, so that isn’t really an option. Besides, now that the US is tanking, what country would be willing to take in a huge influx of US immigrants? Having a healthcare system that is affordable for all is not some kind of handout. It is one of the things people should expect in a civilized society. To accuse people of being pathetic for getting sick and unable to pay for their healthcare here, in the country with the highest healthcare costs in the world, is pathetic.

      • You are a jerk. My friend was denied coverage because of a preexisting condition and was left to fend for herself by insurance companies that are rationing care to deepen their pockets. Norway has a longer life expectancy, full coverage, lower costs, healthier population, higher standard of living and at worst the waits are maybe slightly longer. I have private insurance and it takes me 2 months to just get a check up in the u.s. so you are clueless. Insurance companies are now at the very least forced to infuse some level of morality into their disgusting practices.

    • Coporate greed is not the reason healthcare is terrible, its all BECAUSE of the government getting involved, but you are to brainwashed to even see the problems, instead you begin by blaming corporations. Government has done nothing but screw up everything it lays its hands on. If there were no government interference and Doctors and hospitals had to compete for every dollar the cost would remain low. If lawyers weren’t sueing every Dr. that makes a mistake for way to much money then the costs would remain competitive and lower. If you ever took the time to really educate yourself on the horrors of government intervention in to the free markets you’d be amazed at how shallow your thinking is.

      • It’s thanks to the involved government that we have a pretty good/affordable health care system here in Norway…

      • you are sadly mistaken, its not government alone or corporations alone that is the problem with healthcare of in general in this country. The problem is we dont have a government run government. corporations and government work side by side. Medicare part D was a handout, to who?? CORPORATIONS. basically a subsidy to the phamacuetical industry leaving a donut hole stuck to the consumer. The FDA turns a blind eye to dangerous drugs to accomodate drug companies. 30% of premiums go towards advertising and other adminstrative costs not associated with actual care. The reason 90% of Norwegians love their health care is because the government answers to the people, not to drug companies and HMO’s lobbyists. Yes the government in the U.S complicates the system but that is because the system is tilted to deepen pockets not provide care. Same thing with the Military industrial complex, prison industrial complex, farm subsidies, tax loopholes. Where have you been the last 30 years while corporatism and government have become one.

      • Harold Piuze
        6 years ago

        Wow I just read the 2 american’s comments since up here… being american is like being religious… you can’t argue. They don’t want any social support for anybody and keep the right to point guns at all the people they want like the vigil who shoot the young man for nothing. I had 2 guns point on me overhere… thinking about keeping my money in Canada now for vacation. Health care cost a life time…studying upper study the same… like being in debt was a right for everybody… in fact USA is one of the most in debt country of the world…own by bankers and private federal reserve. Like all our country! Keep the illusion that keeping people in shit is being free… you ever heard about humanism?

    • Per Arne
      6 years ago

      It is correct that health care in Norway are free, but large number of doctors there especially the specialist doctors are dum and stupid. Norwegian doctors are the most stupid doctors in the world.

      • Per Arne, is this based on your personal experiences with them (you are Norwegian, right?) or is this a scientifically proven fact?
        In either case: Please share some details with us.

  • rafa mansour
    8 years ago

    hi my name is raf iam form i want to get teartment at norway please hlep me adout it

  • Thanks to all the stories I have read. I am anurse and I am still for the universal healthcare which has been passed. I have been a nurse for many years and have always had the company’s insurance that I was working for. One place I worked charged $240.00 every 2 weeks for a family plan. Having a daughter with acute/chronic asthma, I felt that I had to have insurance. Even though I had insurance, I am still over $10,000.00 in debt. The insurance company would do everything they could to not pay for her treatments, medication, and hospital stays. And never did they agree to pay for allergy testing or any kind of prevenative measures. Her medications were anywhere from $100–to$200 a month. Needless to say,being a single mother, I wasn’t always able to afford that and my other expenses too.
    With this new system that is underway here–I am sure it will not be perfect especially in the beginning but it has to be better.
    Now that my daughter is an adult she has had Medicaid and I feel like she is getting better treatment than she ever had with my insurance. I work in the medical field! You would think that I would be able to have better insurance and better coverage.
    The Insurance companies that line the pockets of politicians are the reason why the old healthcare system sucks!
    I am sure there is good and bad for all of the healthcare plans in all of the different countries.
    As for the elderly–it will get worse as far as the treatment goes. People are living longer + the population is increasing. I predict that euthanasia will no longer be a debate about whether or not a person can choose, but manditory after a certain age. That sounds awful, I know, but what do you call making medications–life sustaining medications or treatments for that matter–so expensive that only the ones that can afford it get it? I call that somebody’s way of population control.

    • Robert Hafetz
      8 years ago

      As I read this I am reading a research by LEVE, a group in Norway for suicided survivors. The availiability and quality of psychological treatment for this group is inadequate and archaic. Clearly the mental health profession in Norway isnt trained to handle these cases. One wonders of the mental health system there is inadequate in other areas as well. One glaring factor that stands out is the general poor training that psychologists and health professionals in Norway have. There wil always be severe problems with Socialised Medicine but the main problem is the inability to fix them. With limited funds somone will always get the short end of the stick. While you may be able to have a baby at no cost, if that baby grows up and has emotional problems youre in trouble. In contrast care in the US for mental health is lightyears ahead of Norway.( How Do Young Suicide Survivors Wish To Be Met By Psychologists, Dryegrov, K. Oslo)

      • Bob Warnock
        8 years ago

        Perhaps you could follow their healthcare outcomes and this will answer your questions. thx

  • At least everyone is covered. Here in the US the insurance companies love denying coverage to save the bottom line. Health care should not be for profit. Profits encourage the health care industry to make the wrong decisions. The governmet here in the US wont bring up the fact that a healthy population is a productive popoulation.

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Obama's healthcare plan - Page 2 - AionSource.com :

    […] Originally Posted by Neijya I would like to hear more about the Australian system, if you know anything about it. Or about any of the European systems, if our YUROPean friends would care to share. I already know the Canadian system is a bunch of bollocks. I wish we had a private system on top of the public one. Free health care in Norway. Almost perfect… | Web log of Evert Meulie […]

    9 years ago

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