Seeking treatment abroad

Seeking treatment abroad means that you travel from your country of residence to another country to obtain treatment there. If you receive treatment abroad for an acute illness or following an accident, this is not considered as seeking treatment.

How to seek treatment on own initiative without prior authorisation

You can seek treatment without prior authorisation in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland. You should yourself find a suitable place of treatment and check your possibilities of obtaining treatment there.

You first pay all the costs for the treatment yourself. You can claim reimbursement for the costs from Kela on form Medical care expenses incurred abroad (SV 128e). You must claim reimbursement within 6 months from the date of paying the costs.

You are entitled to reimbursement for doctor’s and dentist’s fees if you are covered for health insurance in Finland or you have a place of domicile in Finland. You may also be entitled to reimbursement in case you are not covered for health insurance in Finland but Finland is responsible for your medical care expenses. You can also be granted reimbursement for the costs for examinations and treatments prescribed by a doctor or dentist and for medicines. The treatment received must be part of the service selection of the Finnish healthcare system and reimbursable under the Finnish Health Insurance Act.

You are also entitled to reimbursement for travel and medicine expenses. Travel expenses are reimbursed as if you had travelled to the nearest place of treatment in Finland where you could have received the necessary treatment or examination. Medicines purchased abroad are reimbursed on the same grounds as medicines purchased in Finland.

Example

Antti, who lives in Salo, has travelled to Paris for specialised medical care. Antti receives reimbursement for the travel expenses according to the costs for travelling to Turku University Hospital. If Antti had travelled to Paris for primary healthcare, the travel expenses would be reimbursed according to the costs for travelling to the health centre in Salo.

Reimbursements for medical care expenses are only paid for treatment provided in an EU or EEA country or Switzerland. If you seek treatment in some other country, you cannot receive reimbursements from Kela.

How to seek treatment abroad with prior authorisation

You can also receive prior authorisation to seek treatment in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland. If you have prior authorisation, you pay only a user fee for the treatment. You should yourself find a suitable place of treatment and check your possibilities of obtaining treatment there. You should also find out if it is possible to use the prior authorisation at the place of treatment in question.

Apply for prior authorisation from Kela on form Authorisation to obtain treatment outside the country of residence (SV 129e). Enclose medical documentation on your illness or the treatment with your application (e.g. treatment record or medical statement). Apply for prior authorisation well in advance of seeking treatment. Kela needs time to decide on your application because Kela asks the public healthcare provider for a statement on your situation.

The public healthcare provider should support the granting of authorisation if all the following criteria are met:

  • The treatment is necessary in your case.
  • The treatment you have applied for is included in the treatments provided by the public healthcare system in Finland.
  • It is not possible to arrange treatment for you in Finland within the time limits defined under the waiting times guarantee system.

Kela decides on the application on the basis of the statement. If the public healthcare provider supports the granting of an authorisation, Kela grants a prior authorisation (form S2) that you should take with you to the place of treatment.

Example

Ingrid, who lives in Vaasa, wants to seek treatment in Sweden. She applies for prior authorisation from Kela. Kela asks Vaasa Central Hospital for a statement on whether the preconditions for granting prior authorisation are met in Ingrid’s case. Vaasa Central Hospital gives a statement supporting the granting of prior authorisation. On the basis of the statement, Kela grants Ingrid an authorisation.

If you despite prior authorisation have to pay all the costs for the treatment yourself, you can claim reimbursement from Kela on form Medical care expenses incurred abroad (SV 128e).

You can receive reimbursement from Kela afterwards for medicine, travel and accommodation expenses in connection with treatment provided on the basis of prior authorisation. If the healthcare provider has considered that an accompanying person is necessary, it is also possible to receive reimbursement for the expenses of the accompanying person. Claim reimbursement from Kela on form Medical care expenses incurred abroad (SV 128e).

You can also apply for authorisation afterwards if you have first paid all the costs yourself. Authorisation has to be granted afterwards if it would have been granted before the treatment. Apply for authorisation and reimbursements within 6 months of paying for the treatment.

Further information