Finnish Health Care

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Finnish Medical System - Part 1

This is a slightly updated version of an essay I wrote several years ago for a different audience.

I am a natural born American. Until I met the man I subsequently married, I never would have dreamed of not spending the rest of my life in the USA. I love the USA, my family and my friends, and never considered leaving. Then, I met my husband who was born and raised in Finland, spent his life there, and never had any real thoughts of leaving. So, twelve years ago I moved to Helsinki, Finland to take up residence with my Finnish husband. I had no real experience with life in Finland, outside my visits to see my husband, or in fact of life outside of the USA, and one of my concerns was how I would deal with the Finnish medical system, which was different from anything I knew.

I had grown up under the American system of health care. I had received medical insurance through my job, and had noticed over the last ten years, how health insurance cost my office more and more and gave us less and less. Because of the costs, my work had to switch from health insurance that allowed us to see any doctor we wanted to, to a PPC program that vastly restricted who we could go to. Our co-payments for office visits and prescriptions went up almost every year, etc.

One of the first things I found out when I got to Finland was that under their medical system there was no such thing as a pre-existing condition. No matter what medical problems I had, the Finnish medical system would take care of them. Since I was moving to Finland with some medical issues, that was a real relief to me.

In Finland all citizens, and permanent residents are covered by the government health plan. Some people also have private insurance through their job, but the vast majority only have and use the government system.

The first 6 years I lived in Finland the medical system didn't impact me in any meaningful way, although I was impressed to find out that mammograms were considered a routine medical test, and every woman once they reached a certain age was automatically scheduled for one.

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