Public vs private
Public healthcare in Sweden is known for its high standards and quality and is ranked within the top 10 globally. Both native citizens and expats have access to public healthcare, making Sweden an attractive destination for many people.
However, as an expat it is important to check whether the public healthcare covers everything you require. For example, the following are not included in the basic healthcare that is offered:
- Dental care
- Cancer treatments
- Medical repatriation
Many expats choose to supplement their healthcare in Sweden with private insurance to include the above. Insurers like Cigna Global offer each of them, which you can add to your plan to suit your needs. They also offer much shorter waiting times for appointments, and surgery in Sweden, where public hospital waiting times were branded “an embarrassment” by the president of an organization comparing global healthcare systems. Between 2010 and 2015 the number of people with private health insurance in Sweden increased by 50%. Now, around half a million Swedes have private insurance.
How bad are public waiting times?
Hospitals in Sweden are currently struggling to keep up with the sheer volume of patients that come in each day. For one of the richest countries in Europe, it’s surprising that they have a around a third less beds available per person than in Poland, one of the poorest countries in Europe.
The waiting time for emergency care is another big issue in the public system, mainly because of a lack of nurses and medical professionals. In extreme cases, you could be waiting for over 4 hours to be seen in one of Sweden's hospitals. Usually though, you can expect waiting times to be at least an hour.
If you would like more tips about healthcare in Sweden, check out our Sweden Health Guide. Here you will find lots more information about how the public system works including what to do in an emergency, pharmacies and doctors in this Scandinavian country.