Healthcare for International Students in Sweden 

I recently got a lot of queries about health care for students, honestly, I didn’t have any idea, for the small problems I faced over past one year, I had a stock of medicines prescribed by my family doctor in India. Though one of my friends had some experience while he visited doctor and physiotherapist due to his ligament injury. While looking up about health care for students, I came across a very nice blog by one of the bloggers from Karolinska Institutet, Manjula, who happily agreed to let me use that information for my blog. So here’s a compilation of information about healthcare for international students, compiled from various sources.

Some facts about healthcare and public health in Sweden:

  • The most interesting thing about Sweden’s healthcare system is the availability for everyone including both citizens and immigrants.
  • Sweden spends approximately 9.9 % of its total GDP on healthcare
  • The mortality rate in Sweden is approximately 27 per every 100,000, which is second lowest in the world.
  • Also, the average life expectancy in Sweden is 79.5 years for men and 83.5 years for women – a lot higher than the world average.
  • The medical expenses for children (below 18 years old) are absolutely free.

So, the Swedish public healthcare system is very well designed and it’s been considered to be best a model for many others countries.

Some healthcare related words in Swedish:

Vårdcentral  –  Health Center
Akutmottagning  –  Emergency Center
Närakut  –  Acute Care Center
Tandvård  –  Dentist
Sjukhus  –  Hospital
Apotek  –  Pharmacy

Most of the information you need about healthcare services can be found on the Healthcare Guide website, I have a compilation below about some of the FAQs:

How to find the nearest doctor?

In order to set an appointment with a physician, you must call the health center (vårdcentral) which is closest to you in your municipality. It’s pretty easy, just do a Google search for Vårdcentral and you’ll see the closest ones, you need to call them and fix an appointment.

Calls can be made between 08-16 hours on weekdays. In some cases, you will be called for a preliminary checkup before booking an appointment. The website www.1177.se has a search function for Vårdcentraler around you.

What if I need to see a doctor urgently ?

If you have trouble making an appointment at a healthcare center or if you need urgent care, it’s usually possible to receive treatment at a local acute care center (Närakut). Acute care centers were created to take the load off emergency units in case of less severe cases.

What if something serious happens and there is emergency need?

In the case of emergency, always call 112. If something serious happens during weekends or outside normal office hours, you must visit Emergency center, known as Akutmottagningen or Akuten, at your nearest hospital (Sjukhus). If you are concerned about a non-emergency healthcare issue, you can also ring 1177 for advice.

Where do I get medicines?

Pharmacies in Sweden are called Apotek, they provide prescription and non-prescription medication as well as basic health and beauty products. Some non-prescription medications like basic pain or fever medication can also be found at some grocery stores.

What are the waiting times for appointments?

The waiting time is one of the most difficult phases in Sweden, even if you go to the emergency, there are chances that you might have to wait as the preference is given on the basis of severity.

To visit primary health care you usually have to make an appointment which will be given after two weeks or so. Of course, this will vary depending on the situation of the patient. Many Vårdcentraler have drop-in times where you can just show up or book a time the same day. Considering enrolling at a health center (Vårdcentral) is always a good idea. Different Vårdcentraler have different routines for booking appointments/drop-in times. If you enroll you will know where to turn, whom to call and at what time.

Note: If you make an appointment and don’t show up, you’ll be still charged (you’ll get an invoice at your home), so make sure to cancel your appointment if you have healed by yourself by the time of appointment (which is quite possible if you get an appointment very late).

How much does it cost to visit the doctor in Sweden?

There is one big myth about Nordic countries, that health care is absolutely free, but it’s not. The healthcare in Sweden is not free but very cheap. Visiting a resident physician costs 150-200 SEK while emergency visits are about 350-450 SEK and staying at a hospital is 80SEK/day.

Note these fees are applicable only for people with “personal number”. If you do not have a personal number then you need to pay 2200 SEK per visit. You can read more about the personal number on one of my recent blog.

Even better, there is an upper limit to how much you can spend (This also applies only on people with a personal number). If you reach the limit of 1100 SEK within one year then all other medical consultations and health care services are free of charge for the rest of that year. Similarly, there is an upper limit for the outpatient pharmaceuticals, which is 2,100 SEK/year, over this limit it is medication prescribed by a physician is completely free. But make sure not to lose the receipts.

Note: Once you reach the 1100 threshold, there is a card issued to you called Frikort, you must carry it with yourself as a proof whenever you go to see a doctor.

Dental care?

Well, this is a totally different story, dental care is quite expensive in Sweden; if you need to consult a dentist here, visit www.1177.se to find local listings

A summary of what I’ve discussed so far (Save this)


Healthcare for KTH Students

What Does KTH offer for its students?

As a student at KTH, you are insured during school hours and during direct travel between your home and university premises. All enrolled KTH students are covered by a personal injury insurance during the time you are on university premises and on journeys to and from the university. The insurance applies to all instances where you (the student) are participating in activities arranged by KTH, e.g. during a sandwich placement (internship) or at a workplace where you are carrying out your degree project.

The personal injury insurance does not apply during the orientation and introduction period (during this period, students must arrange for their own accident insurance).

Note: The personal injury insurance does not apply to Ph.D. students they are insured through their contract of employment. 

Among other things, compensation can be obtained for medical care, medications, physical therapy, medical expenses and for pain and suffering.

How do I submit a claim?

To report an injury, you need to:

  1. Download and fill in the Personal Injury Insurance claim form on Kammarkollegiet’s homepage
  2. Ensure that a teacher or administrator certifies that, at the time of the injury, you were enrolled and were conducting studies at the university
  3. Send the completed form to: Kammarkollegiet, 651 80 Karlstad

For full details of the insurance terms, contact Kammarkollegiet

What if I am going for exchange studies?

For outgoing exchange studies (KTH students undergoing exchange studies at a partner university outside Sweden) insurance coverage is available through Kammarkollegiet. The insurance is called Student UT. Read more about the insurance on Kammarkollegiets website.

Note: If you are not studying abroad under an exchange agreement, conducting Minor Field Studies (MFS) or on an Erasmus sandwich placement, it is your responsibility to acquire insurance for the period of time you are abroad. For questions relating to insurance at KTH, contact the Student counseling. (08-790 6730)

What is covered in FAS+ Insurance offered for fee paying International students?

Tuition fee paying students admitted to a KTH Master’s or Bachelor’s programme and students holding a KTH Scholarship (former KTH Tuition fee waiver) are covered by the comprehensive insurance FAS+ during their studies at KTH.

FAS+ insurance applies during the education period as well as two weeks prior to the start of studies and two weeks after the end of studies. If for any reason the insured are to finish their studies earlier than planned, the cover plan will change accordingly, still allowing for two weeks cover after they finish. Students do not need to activate the insurance in order for it to be valid.

Note: FAS+ does not apply to SI-scholarship holders who hold a separate insurance through the Swedish Institute. For more information please visit: Study in Sweden

In brief, FAS+ includes medical costs (except planned care), limited dental cover, liability cover, property cover, legal expenses etc. It is important for you as a student to know what is included in the insurance and what the exceptions are. You can find the terms and conditions on this link.

If you have any questions about the FAS+ insurance or want to make a claim please send an email to info@kth.se or visit KTH Entré at Drottning Kristinas väg 4.

Further Reading

  1. KTH Health Care brochure.
  2. Finding your way around the healthcare system
  3. FAS+ Terms & Conditions
  4. How healthcare in Sweden works – also for international students: Manjula Bhuma


3 thoughts on “Healthcare for International Students in Sweden 

  1. Arnold Heiss

    How I wish that we can also have inexpensive but high-quality healthcare in our country. All nations should emulate Sweden’s ways.

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