Understanding Health Insurance and Healthcare in Norway

Understanding Health Insurance and Healthcare in Norway

Navigating the healthcare system in Norway involves a mix of public healthcare and limited private health insurance options. Notably, private health insurance has a minimal presence due to the comprehensive coverage provided by the public system. This section aims to provide an overview of Norway’s healthcare system, covering public and private healthcare, key features, healthcare facts, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), costs, and considerations for expats.

Public Healthcare in Norway: Norway boasts one of the world’s best healthcare systems, comprising both public hospitals and private clinics. Public hospitals are managed by Regional Health Authorities under the Ministry of Health and Care Services. The government ensures universal healthcare for all residents, irrespective of age, race, gender, income, or location. Primary health and social care fall under the municipalities’ responsibility.

Healthcare Facts in Norway:

Life expectancy: 84 for women and 81 for men (2019). Main causes of death: Cardiovascular disease and cancer. Drug-induced deaths: Averaging 260 annually, relatively high compared to other countries. Health challenges: Insufficient physical activity, excessive sugar consumption, rising obesity in adults, and smoking prevalence.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC):

EHIC provides reduced-cost or free access to state healthcare services for temporary visitors with the card. Not a substitute for travel insurance; travelers are advised to have both.

Costs and Coverage in Public Healthcare:

Public healthcare is not entirely free; individuals 16 and younger, along with pregnant/nursing women, receive free healthcare. Annual deductible of around 2,040 NOK (222 USD) for others, followed by free healthcare for the rest of the year.

Why Norway’s Healthcare Seems Expensive:

Funded through national and municipal taxes, contributing to public retirement funds and covering extra healthcare costs. A contribution-based system ensures affordability, with everyone contributing a fair share.

What Public Healthcare Covers:

Emergency services, pregnancy, and childbirth costs. Medical treatment for children under 16. Treatment of work-related injuries. General healthcare costs (partially covered). Treatment abroad if necessary, rehabilitation, dental care for specific groups, and psychological care for children, among others.

Pros and Cons of Norway’s Healthcare System: Pros:

Universal coverage through the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). Option to opt-out and purchase private insurance. Patients can choose their general practitioner (GP). High-quality care.


Not everything is covered under NIS. Out-of-pocket expenses for extra materials and medical equipment. Some specialized treatments require additional deductibles. Significant wait times for certain procedures.

Private Health Insurance in Norway:

Provided by for-profit companies for quick access, a broader choice of providers, and enhanced facilities. Limited market; 15% of the workforce and 9% of the population have private insurance, often provided by employers.

Do You Need Health Insurance in Norway?

Optional due to extensive public coverage; small market for private insurance. Expats may find limited options for private health insurance.

Health Insurance Coverage:

Covers dental care, surgery, hospital treatment, consultations with private specialists, prescription drugs, psychological aid, and more. Plans categorized as basic, standard, and super coverage, with varying levels of coverage.

Cost of Health Insurance:

Average monthly cost around 508 NOK (56 USD); varies based on age, gender, and payment frequency. Expats may need to meet a minimum residency period before purchasing insurance.

How to Get Health Insurance in Norway:

International providers include Allianz, Bupa Global, Cigna Global, Pacific Prime. Norsk Helseforsikring is a Norwegian option. Contact chosen company for details and a quote.

Finding a Doctor or Dentist in Norway:

Assigned a doctor upon National Registry registration; choice of GP from an approved list. Dentistry covered for children, partially covered for 19–20-year-olds, adults pay out-of-pocket. Online directories help find doctors and dentists.

Average Wait Time to See a Doctor:

Same-day appointments available at medical centers from 8:00 to 15:00. Hospitalization may involve waiting, with up to three months for some procedures.

Giving Birth in Norway:

All pregnancy and birth-related costs covered by the state. Residence permit or registration required for non-residents’ newborns. Entitlement to child, parental, and pregnancy benefits.

Abortion in Norway:

Right to terminate pregnancy during the first three months. Approval required for abortions after twelve weeks, obtained through a board of experts.

In summary, Norway’s healthcare system blends efficient public coverage with limited private options, offering comprehensive care to residents. Expats should explore their healthcare needs, considering public coverage and evaluating private insurance based on individual circumstances.

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