Guide to Healthcare in Norway

4 Expats Talk about Healthcare and Health Insurance in Norway

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 15, 2020

Summary: Expats living in Norway talk about healthcare, proximity to hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care in Norway, availability of prescription medicines and more.

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Expats in Norway offer insight into the quality of healthcare in Norway, proximity to hospitals, cost of health insurance and more.

What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Norway?

We asked expat moms who gave birth in Norway about their experiences and advice they have for other moms to be. They said:

"If she were able to have a natural child birth, I would say 'go for it'. If she knew up front that she needed a c-section or there could be any complications, I would say 'run'," commented an expat living in Stavanger, Norway.

Expat Health Insurance in Norway

Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get quotes our partner, International Citizens Insurance, a trusted expat health insurance broker. They will provide you with comparison quotes from some of the biggest expat health insurers: Cigna, Aetna and GeoBlue.

What are local medical services like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Norway and they replied:

"If you are already ill, do not accept offers of work in Norway unless you have ensured you will be given permanent residence and can prove you own or rent a property in Norway," commented an expat living in N/A, Norway.

"Medical care is free to everyone including even visitors. I was covered from day one. The hospital ER here, has what is called a legevagkt, meaning a doctor who can see you after hours when your regular doctors office is closed. Only requirement is that you must call ahead to be seen if not a life threatening emergency," said another expat in Kongsvinger.

"Don't. Pay for private. The laid-back laissez faire attitude that seems appealing when talking to Norwegians in coffee shops is quite the opposite when you are ill and need healthcare. There is no accountability and often gross errors," remarked another expat in Oslo.

"The main problem where I am in Norway, is that the doctor I have is too lax and laid back, basically I go in and sit in his office to chat. No exam, I have only had my blood pressure taken once in near 4 years now, my weight, TPR's and family history have never been taken. But the main problem is that seeking specialists can and will take anywhere from 6 months to 1 1/2 years. Doctors here will tell you lets see how you feel in 3 months or so....etc,etc, etc.....and then maybe you might be refered then or wait yet another 3 months before they set an appt for you 6 months down the road or longer. For instance I have been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism (thyroid disease) for near 4 years and am still yet to see an endocronologist, as my medication isn't doing a thing for my symptoms (constant headaches, extreme itching in ears and head, excessive weight gain, ear infections caused by itching irritations, tunnel syndrome, and round the clock tiredness and exhaustion from small tasks. And after 10 or more trips to the ear specialist, nothing has done anything to stop this endless madness," explained one expat in Kongsvinger.

What do you think about the cost of medical care in Norway?

"If you fail any of these tests (see earlier section), you will, even though you pay "trygdeavgift" a. be invoiced for health care and pursued through the courts to recover the value of treatment you received b. be refused an EU healthcard c. be refused the services of a "fastlege" (family doctor / GP) d. lose access to your medical care in your native land unless you continue paying into the national insurance scheme there as well Please see, for further information The Norwegian National Insurance Act sections 2-1 and 2-14 paragraph 4," commented an expat living in N/A, Norway.

"With socialized healthcare, you have an out of pocket threshold, and when that is met we are entitled to what is called a frikort (freecard), for the remainder of the year. You then have no co pay other than special cases where it is not deemed medically necessary. Example: I have what is called skintags that can be annoying and unpleasant, so I have them lasered off about once a year. Even when having a frikort, it will still cost me some. Normally a specialist costs about 365N OK for co-pay, but if time runs over or if they need to use extra equipment, then you will have to pay a portion of that. With a frikort, that 365 is waived, but anything over that you will have to pay part of," said another expat in Kongsvinger.

What are emergency services like?

When we asked about emergency services, members in Norway wrote:

"Kongsvinger Sykehus is my local hospital. There are several other hospitals within driving distance in surrounding townscities. Kongsvinger is far from the best for medical care, but has improved over the last year or so. The one thing they are best at in the entire country, is their 7th floor, which is for bone surgeries. Need a knee or hip replacement, or other bone related surgery, Kongsvinger has the best bone surgeon team in the country. Many hospitals here are known for specialties such as, Bergen which has the best burn unit in the country. Many people are medically flown in a chopper for free from one hospital to another, such as Oslo for heart problems," commented an expat living in Kongsvinger, Norway.

"A few minutes from (public) Ullevål hospital and fairly near the public ER (legevakt). It's a bit of a nightmare really, the standard of care is shockingly bad, especially considering the amount of money in the healthcare system per capita (the only two things that are strikingly good are the food in Norwegian hospitals, really very good, and the general state of repair of the hospitals. Overall the quality of care at Ullevål hospital and legevakt is very bad indeed: unprofessional, discharging patients too early, missing serious illness, accidentally giving medicines that someone is allergic to, ignoring me when I am in a corridor on a hospital bed and referring to me only as "hun innvandre der" ("that immigrant there"), an ambulance missing the signs of severe concussion, very poorly trained and unprofessional ambulance personnel, no adequate triage system at the ER (legevakt). If you have a chronic illness then do not move to Norway without paying for private care. When mistakes are made then there is no accountability and lassitude seems to be permissible, I have had a terrible time with the healthcare system and it is one of the very worst aspects of living here- for me, perhaps the worst," said another expat in Oslo.

"There is just one hospital in Kongsvinger and it is second rate at best. My sister-in-law went to have her baby, and after being placed in her room post birth, she was told point blank that if she bloodied or dampened the sheets, that she would have to change her own bed! I was like WTF? But I don't think this is the case in most cities here as I have never heard this from anyone anywhere else, and we have family all over. Same with most other healthcare issues, it seems to me that Kongsvinger does things however they wish to regardless," remarked another expat in Kongsvinger.

Are their specialists in the area or do you need to travel to see a specialist?

"The EFTA Surveillance Authority condemns Norway's record on patients' rights and access to treatment In many rural places, they cannot recruit doctors. Superficially, wages are good but the high taxes and costs of living mean many vacancies are unfilled and doctors that do come leave remarkably quickly. Many are Danish, good, and come to spend a summer almost as a working holiday but do not settle in Norway choosing to leave before they work more than three months in Norway and become resident in Norway "for tax purposes" which is not a good thing if you're not Norwegian," commented an expat living in N/A, Norway.

"OK here is where one is able to pick and choose if not satisfied with local specialists. I myself see an ENT doctor in Lillestrøm, which is about an hour from me, the same goes for a GYN which I see in Elverum, again about a 30 to 40 minute drive depending on traffic. I went through the local ENT first for months with no satisfaction for 1 12 years. Went to Lillestrøm and was satisfied immediately from day one. The one thing I find to be on the down side of things, is that things tend to run too slow, as you can wait up to a year to be seen by certain specialists, especially if you aren't willing to go elsewere," said another expat in Kongsvinger.

"Only once did I have to do this and it was for an MRI, and I must say it was superb care overall. This was done in Lillestrøm," remarked another expat in Kongsvinger.

Are most prescription medications available in Norway?

"Medicines are expensive and for some you need a prescription I am sorry, I have not had the opportunity to give my experiences outside of a !questionnaire" Check you can be a member of Folketrygden You will be forced to contribute to it even if you cannot be a member," commented an expat living in N/A, Norway.

"Many things are over the counter here which are prescribed in the US and vice-a-versa. Like in the US you can only get 200mg Ibuprofen, and here you can get 200mg and 400mg tablets mover the counter. There is a blue list which is very low cost here, but even when it's not blue listed, you still get prescriptions at a discounted price," said another expat in Kongsvinger.

"I am on Thyroid meds which are generally called into the local apotek (pharmacy) and being that they are on the blue list it costs me out of pocket minimally," remarked another expat in Kongsvinger.

Do expats and global nomads in Norway have access to public healthcare? What is it like?

"If you work in Norway more than 3 months you become "resident in Norway" for tax purposes, forced to pay into the Norwegian national insurance scheme "folketrygden" However, you can only be a member of "folketrygden" if you a. do not ever work outside of Norway b. do not ever work aboard a ship not flying a Norwegian flag c. are registered as living in Norway d. own or rent a property in Norway e. can prove you can support yourself f. need to be in Norway for at least one period exceeding three months every year g. intend to be in Norway for at least twelve months ," commented an expat living in N/A, Norway.

Expats living in Norway interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get quotes our partner, International Citizens Insurance, a trusted expat health insurance broker. They will provide you with comparison quotes from some of the biggest expat health insurers: Cigna, Aetna and GeoBlue. Get a Quote

Expats living in Norway interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get quotes our partner, International Citizens Insurance, a trusted expat health insurance broker. They will provide you with comparison quotes from some of the biggest expat health insurers: Cigna, Aetna and GeoBlue.

International Citizens InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a comparison quotes for some of the biggest expat health insurers from our partner, International Citizens Insurance.
Get Quotes

Healthcare in NorwayHealthcare in Norway

Expat share advice about healthcare and health insurance in Norway.

Healthcare in KongsvingerHealthcare in Kongsvinger, Norway

The main problem where I am in Norway, is that the doctor I have is too lax and laid back, basically I go in and sit in his office to chat. No exam, I have only had my blood pressure taken once in nea

Healthcare in OsloHealthcare in Oslo, Norway

An expat in Oslo, Norway shares some thoughts about her experiences with the health care system there. Her advice, based on hard experiences, is to definitely get private health insurance.

expat healthcare surveyAnswer Questions about Healthcare in Norway

Help others moving to Norway by answering a set of questions about health insurance, public healthcare in Norway, prescription medicine, quality of medical care and emergency services.

Having-a-Baby-In-NorwayExpats Talk about What it's Like Having a Baby in Norway

Read recent baby reports submitted for Stavanger and Oslo.

If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Moving-to-NorwayMoving to Norway

Expats in Norway report a life abroad in a country to which it can be difficult to adapt. However, if you have the right situation and persevere, the natural beauty and hard won quality friendships can be quite rewarding.

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International Citizens InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a comparison quotes for some of the biggest expat health insurers from our partner, International Citizens Insurance.
Get Quotes

Healthcare in NorwayHealthcare in Norway

Expat share advice about healthcare and health insurance in Norway.

healthcare in KongsvingerHealthcare in Kongsvinger, Norway

The main problem where I am in Norway, is that the doctor I have is too lax and laid back, basically I go in and sit in his office to chat. No exam, I have only had my blood pressure taken once in nea -

healthcare in OsloHealthcare in Oslo, Norway

An expat in Oslo, Norway shares some thoughts about her experiences with the health care system there. Her advice, based on hard experiences, is to definitely get private health insurance. -

healthcare surveyAnswer Questions about Healthcare in Norway

Help others moving to Norway by answering a set of questions about health insurance, public healthcare in Norway, prescription medicine, quality of medical care and emergency services.

Having-a-Baby-In-NorwayExpats Talk about What it's Like Having a Baby in Norway

Read recent baby reports submitted for Stavanger and Oslo.

If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

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