The Danish Health Security Act ensures that all Danish citizens and legal residents alike can access medical care. The Danish believe that by protecting the health of its citizens is tantamount to a happy and productive society. So it is no wonder that the Danes almost always consider themselves “satisfied” with their lives.
Healthcare in Denmark is funded by income taxes from all its citizens and legal residents. It seems to function as a national health maintenance organization, otherwise known as an HMO in the US. 90% of the Danish belongs in this group, simply called Group 1. Another category, Group 2, is, however, the equivalent of PPO, preferred provider organization. Let’s examine how the system works.
First of all, in order to access medical care, you need a CPR card, which is a national health insurance card called Sunhedskort. This certifies that you are eligible for free medical care. You must carry this card with you always.
At the time of application of CPR, you will choose your own family doctor within your area (kommune). Dentist can also be chosen.
Now if you want to find your own doctor, regardless of whether the doctor is in kommune, you would enroll in this group. As you get to decide who you want to see, there’s a cost associated to it, called the premium. The state will only cover up to a standard set fee. The rest will be coming out from your pocket or an additional insurance plan you have in place.
When you get sick, you will call your family doctor first. Your family doctor will either treat you himself, or give you a referral called henvisning to a specialist. Normal working hours for doctors are between 8am and 4pm. After those hours, you need to contact the laegevagt which is the after-hours service where doctors are on call for emergency calls and home visits. Each kommune has a list of phone numbers where the doctors can be reached.
Make sure you have your CPR number ready and describe your symptoms. After consultation, doctors will decide what the next step will be. It could be a next day appointment, a home visit or an ambulance if need be.
In order for you to see a specialist, your family doctor must first authorize a henvisning. Exceptions to the rule are ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat), and eye specialist. As stated before, Group 2 insurance subscriber does not need a referral. You make an appointment yourself. Be ready for a long wait as specialists have waiting lists.
There are two types of hospitals in Denmark: public and private. Public hospitals are run by Denmark’s 14 counties. Both Group 1 and 2 subscribers need referrals for hospitals. Depending on the length of wait, the government will let you check in a hospital with the shortest wait list. In some cases, the health service will allow you to receive care outside of country with no cost to you.
Dental care is also provided by the health service. Unlike medical care, you may choose your own dentist (tandlaege) and without referral from your family doctor. However, they only cover standard fee of the dental bill, and the rest will be paid by you or a supplemental health insurance plan you have in place. Many Danish subscribe to private insurance to cover the shortfall. The Atlas Travel or Euro Travel plan listed below, for example, would be excellent insurance options that can cover the additional expenses not covered under your Danish health insurance.
Drugs are divided into two categories: prescription and over the counter. For prescription drugs, you need a prescription from your doctor or dentist. The Danish must cover co-pays and supplemental insurance like the Atlas Travel is used by many for that purpose.