No plans to restrict reimbursement of medical expenses for private health care
Reimbursements of medical expenses will be available for private
doctor's fees and treatment/examination charges even after the so-called
"treatment guarantee" has entered into force at the beginning of March.
According to Director Mikael Forss of the Social
Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA), there are no plans to limit
these reimbursements, as doctors are believed to be able to evaluate the
need for treatment.
However, the issue will be discussed in the socio-medical affairs
committee of KELA at the end of the current month. The question is
whether the reimbursement should be subject to some kind of priority
assessment as regards the need for treatment, in the same way as in the
forthcoming treatment guarantee.
The idea behind the treatment guarantee is to
ensure all patients throughout the country equal access to treatment
within six months or less by prioritising among different health
problems. Hence the need for treatment for varicose veins, glaucoma, or
a hip disorder is easily regarded as less vital than for example for
Currently, there are not enough resources to provide treatment for all
those in need and the waiting time for treatment varies depending on
where a person lives in Finland.
All Finnish municipalities are responsible for
practical implementation of statutory services, which are either
provided by the local authorities themselves or purchased from the
Private health centres are already now offering services to patients who
will not be eligible for the six-month rule.
In 2003, a total of about EUR 65.5 million was paid
as reimbursements of medical expenses for private doctor's fees and
treatment/examination charges by the Social Insurance Institution of
Finland (KELA). The compensation was some 30% of the doctor's invoice.
In Finland, the number of doctors in private practice is close to 1,600,
while the total number of practising physicians is about 15,500.
Moreover, about 4,600 doctors who work in the public sector have a
part-time private practice as well.
According to an OECD study on 21 countries, Finland heads the list of
countries where money brings better health care. In addition to having
better access to private doctors and occupational health services, Finns
with high incomes were also found to use public health services more
Previously in HS International Edition:
Number of doctors and nurses is going up while number of patients is declining (14.2.2005)
Hospitals fear nurse shortage may make treatment guarantee impossible to implement (8.9.2004)
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA)