Getting healthcare in Norway

For many foreigners (especially us Americans) it’s fun to joke, “I’m in Norway, yay, free healthcare!” However, you’ll soon find out that in Norway very little is free. You’ll certainly be paying for the healthcare via your high taxes. And you still need to spend money from time to time to see a doctor or get a certain test. If you want to see a doctor fast, for example, at a private clinic, you will most certainly pay, and handsomely.

At the same time, the Norwegian healthcare system is good at doing its job of taking care of everyone, regardless of age or employment status. Even us non-Norwegians and non-citizen residents get things pretty good. If you have long-term or chronic health concerns, you’ll be taken care of without any big medical bills to ever worry about.

Once you have established residency, you’ll be able to access Helse Norge (Health Norway) and manage your healthcare from a single place. Here you can book appointments, find your doctor, get meds, and see test results.

Norway is renowned for its high standard of living, stunning landscapes, and an efficient and inclusive healthcare system. Understanding how healthcare works in Norway is essential for residents and visitors alike. In this article, we’ll explore the key aspects of the Norwegian healthcare system, its principles, and how to access and benefit from its services.

  1. Universal Healthcare

Norway boasts a universal healthcare system, ensuring that all residents and legal inhabitants have access to medical services regardless of their income or social status. This system is primarily funded through taxes and is characterized by its commitment to equity and accessibility.

  1. The Role of the Government

The Norwegian government plays a central role in healthcare. The Ministry of Health and Care Services sets healthcare policies and priorities, while the 21 county governments are responsible for implementing these policies at the local level. Additionally, municipalities are responsible for delivering primary healthcare services and managing healthcare facilities.

  1. The Norwegian Health Economics Administration (Helfo)

Helfo is a government agency responsible for managing patient registers, national health insurance, and providing information about healthcare services. It also administers reimbursement programs for healthcare expenses and helps patients access necessary healthcare services.

  1. Accessing Healthcare Services

In Norway, you can access healthcare services in several ways:

a. General Practitioner (GP): The first point of contact for healthcare is your GP or “fastlege.” These doctors provide basic healthcare services, make referrals to specialists, and coordinate your care.

b. Specialist Care: If your GP determines that you need specialist care, they will refer you to a specialist or hospital. In emergencies, you can go directly to a hospital.

c. Hospitals: Norway has a network of public hospitals that provide a wide range of medical services, from emergency care to specialized treatments.

  1. Patient Fees

Although healthcare is largely funded by taxes, there are some patient fees. These include a standard fee for visiting a GP and a maximum annual out-of-pocket limit. Once you reach this limit, you won’t pay any additional fees for the rest of the year.

  1. Health Insurance

While basic healthcare is provided to all residents, private health insurance can offer additional benefits, such as faster access to specialists and private healthcare facilities. Many Norwegians choose to complement their public healthcare with private insurance.

  1. Medications

Prescription medications are partly subsidized in Norway. You pay a portion of the cost, which is capped at a certain annual limit. After reaching the limit, your medications are largely covered.

  1. Dental Care

Dental care in Norway is not fully covered by the public healthcare system. It’s essential to purchase separate dental insurance or be prepared to pay for dental services out of pocket.

  1. Maternity Care

Pregnant women receive comprehensive prenatal and maternity care in Norway. The system covers prenatal check-ups, childbirth, and postnatal care.

  1. Emergency Services

Norway has a well-developed emergency healthcare system. Call 113 for emergencies, and you’ll be directed to the appropriate service, whether it’s an ambulance, fire department, or the police.


The Norwegian healthcare system is renowned for its inclusivity, high standards of care, and efficient operation. Understanding how it works is vital for residents and visitors to access the healthcare services they may need. While there are patient fees and limitations in some areas, the overall goal of the system is to provide quality care to all, promoting health and well-being across the nation.

Getting Settled in Norway

One you arrive in Norway here is a few things to start getting setup so you can get settled.

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