Right to health

A great free but fun theme that I don’t have too much to say about! All Finns are medically insured by the state, which is great. It is said health care is free for everyone here, but it is not quite true. You pay a small price for seeing the doctor, or having some tests done, but in truth it is a small price compared to the actual costs. The costs were added as people did not respect e.g. appointments, and a system like ours is expensive to run.
I think the biggest problem in Finland is though that there is a lot regional variation in availability of the health services, e.g. in Helsinki the system often is so full that the waiting times are far too long. So we have opted for private insurances for the kids as well. What are your thoughts on the matter?


  1. You really want my thoughts on the matter?

    All of them? 😉

    I’ll give you a two paragraph summary. I think the government needs to take at least some (and probably not all) responsibility for health care. It’s just not appropriate for the private sector to be left to fill this need one hundred percent. Nature is inherently unfair and the people she’s unfairest to often as a result have the least means to fend for themselves. The private sector and private individuals (donors) don’t operate in a way which encourage (perhaps even allow) them to address everyone’s needs fairly or adequately.

    That said, I am all for allowing a little personal discretion in the matter. People should have some level of choice about how much they want to spend on health care, according to their own values, and I don’t see why people who can afford it can’t be bribed to contribute more, in return for a premium service (private rooms, etc – although the system is not always set up to make it happen as intended). I wish other inequalities (regional, etc) could be solved and hopefully things get better little by little over time as the system is tweaked.

    We do have a good system in Australia (although it’s not quite that easy to find services for absolute free – most of the time there’ll be a nominal fee, and you might have to pay up front and claim back) even if it’s not perfect either. Sounds similar in many ways to the Finnish system.

    1. B, I haven’t actually been thinking about the matter so much before (apart from thinking everyone should be entitled to getting care and wishing the system to work as it should, even though I have some understanding for why it always doesn’t) but I find myself agreeing with what you say. The fees we pay are so nominal that for most people they will not be a huge financial strain, and from what I gather they have helped people to commit to going to the overbooked doctors instead of wasting their time. One thing I appreciate is free ambulances/ rescue services (as long as it is not just your stupidity causing trouble, in that case you may be liable for paying some. Fair enough, in my opinion). But yes, people should have some choice in how much to spend on health care too.

      My experience of the system in Australia is only positive, to me it seems like it is working fairly well!

      But I also had a great encounter I still laugh at: we were about leave for a few months of travels and the (South European?) doctor responded to my request with “you are 30, you are married, you should have children!! No more travelling, and no pills for you”. Exact words, I will never forget them :D. I ended up going to another doctor…

      1. Haha! Oh gosh. Well, obviously not every doctor is like that.

        I do appreciate the point that you don’t want to leave these decisions too late in case things don’t happen as planned. Of course a little bedside manner doesn’t go astray when broaching these delicate topics! A whole range of married couples are quite happy without children at any time!

        But back to the topic – glad you had a positive experience of our system. Of course you do hear cases.

        Emergency rescue and care is definitely a good starting point as those are the situations where you really just need to dive in and sort everything else out later. We’ve had automatic cover and opt-in insurance systems for that side of things at various points in the past.

        The argument against free ambulances are that people abuse the service (like the nominal fee situation with ordinary medical appointments). You could argue the same solution. If people are really on low incomes/government support and struggling to make ends meet, there are already concession schemes to make the nominal payments even more nominal.

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