National Health Insurance: What it covers

The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme is part of the Finnish social security system. Some of the expenses it covers are:

  • a share of private doctors' fees
  • a share of the costs for examinations and treatments prescribed by a private doctor
  • a share of the fees of private dentists and of the costs for examinations prescribed by them
  • a share of your medication costs
  • a share of your illness-related transportation costs.

To qualify for reimbursement, the treatment provided must be medically necessary due to illness, pregnancy or childbirth. The NHI scheme also provides Sickness Allowances (compensation for loss of income during incapacity for work) and Partial Sickness Allowances.

The NHI allowances and reimbursements are defined in the Health Insurance Act and Decree.

Coverage under the National Health Insurance

You must be covered under the NHI scheme in order to qualify for reimbursement of medical expenses. To prove your coverage and your eligibility for reimbursements, present your personal Kela card at the pharmacy or the medical clinic.

As a rule, all permanent residents of Finland are covered under the NHI scheme. Permanent residence means that you are domiciled and spend most of your time in Finland. Employees and self-employed people are typically covered under the NHI system as soon as they start employment or self-employment provided that it will last at least 4 months, or as soon as they have been self-employed in Finland for at least 4 months (regardless of whether they live in Finland).

As a general rule, if you move abroad for more than a year you lose your eligibility under the NHI scheme. However, persons sent by a Finnish employer for a temporary assignment abroad retain their coverage, provided certain conditions are met. If you will be working abroad for longer than a year, you can apply for a decision on coverage for the benefits available from Kela for the duration of your employment abroad. For details, see International situations.

When you move abroad, remember to notify Kela and return your Kela card.