Norwegian Health System has faced most criticism from the Norwegians themselves and even from the foreigners around with all sorts of complaints posted on public blogs. Others have branded it as one system that favors the young and one that wants the old to die fast because they have too many ailments. Doctors have been criticized for not being on time for their appointments and at times taking too long after a given medical test if at all you get the results.
“I am sorry to say that the Norwegian Health care is not only worrying but also disgusting. This comes not only from my own experience but also from many of my friends have been to Norway and the World. If you are bleeding to death or having a heart attack you will get an ambulance or even a chopper to help you. But for anything else, you need to wait until the disease finds a cure for itself or it finds you in the grave,” lamennted Hilsen on a blog post! His comment lead to a thread of frustrated patients raging in anger against this health system.
With all sorts of things said about the Norwegian health system ,I have been praying and asking God to keep me safe during my stay here. With time I will be able to actually judge by what I see, but this far, I think it will be fair to say that the Norwegian Health care system is quite impressive considering that it was established soon after the government gained the money to do so due to oil discovered in the North sea, merely three decades ago which has seen Norway get the recognition of being among the richest country in the World.
Many governments especially in the African continent and around the world have chosen to engage their wealth on much less constructive projects.
It is believed that life expectancy in Norway is among the highest in the world, and is still increasing. The life expectancy of men was 71 in 1970 and 78,2 in 2007, and for women the corresponding figures increased from 77 to 82,7 during the same period. This is related to the reduced mortality from cardiovascular diseases over many years. Low infant mortality has also contributed to a favorable mortality development.
All Norwegian citizens and residents are covered 100%. The National Insurance Scheme is funded by general tax revenues. There is no earmarked tax for health care. The Norwegian tax burden is 45% of GDP. The government sets a global budget limiting overall health expenditures and capital investment.
The health service in Norway is funded predominantly through taxes taken directly from salaries and there is no specific health contribution fund.
The National Insurance Administration known as the Trygdeetaten is responsible for the National insurance Scheme NIS, a state insurance scheme that guarantees everybody a basic level of welfare. The NIS provides benefits for illness, accidents, bodily defects, pregnancy, birth, disability, death, and loss of the breadwinner as well as for unemployment and old age. All citizens who live or work in Norway or are on permanent work within the Norwegian Continental Shelf must contribute to the NIS.
Therefore, healthcare in Norway is almost free, hard to believe for most people. Any treatment and examinations connected to pregnancy care are 100% free of charge. This means from the very first check up until delivery of the baby, no cost at all. To make it more impressive, there is a year maternity leave for the mother and a minimum of six weeks for the father. You know, he also needs to welcome and bond with the baby.
For those extreme cases, Norwegian patients suffering from rheumatism are qualified for two weeks paid vacation at a spa in the Canary Island. It is documented that Norway hires a government ethicist to determine who they spend their money on, because they believe doing it in an ethical way.
Private Insurance and Personal Doctor
When I arrived here one of the procedures was to get myself a doctor or a general practitioner (GPs) from a government list. These GPs then act as gatekeepers for specialist services. Patients can only switch GPs twice per year and only if there is no waiting list for the requested GP. Remember to call your doctor and book an appointment before you step in to see him / her. You can’t go to a specialist without being refereed to, by your personal doctor. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide, “Hey, I feel unwell today, I need to see a Doctor”.
Take note that medicines which can be bought over the counter in other countries are only available on prescription in Norway. So even if you know a given drug could cure your sickness and you would like to buy it over the counter, then you might be shocked and left speechless when you are denied a chance to buy that drug.
For those who have ever experienced a toothache, in most cases you need an immediate attention, it might not be the same in this country. Not only will you need a doctor’s appointment, you need to remember that dental treatment is not free, except for children, the elderly and the disabled, for whom free public dental care is provided. In most cases, dental treatment can be very expensive.
Norwegians can opt out of the government system and pay out-of-pocket. Many pay out-of-pocket and travel to a foreign country for medical care when waiting lists are long.
This is because there are significant waiting times for many procedures. Many Norwegians go abroad for medical treatments. The average waiting time for a hip replacement is more than 4 months. Internet documentation shows that “Approximately 23 percent of all patients referred for hospital admission have to wait longer than three months for admission.” Also, care can be denied if it is not deemed to be cost-effective.
Hospital and non-hospital physicians generally are paid on a salaried basis. Some specialists can receive an annual grant and fee-for-service payments. Reimbursement rates, however, are set by the government and, unlike in France, the physician cannot charge higher rates than the centrally set reimbursement rate.
As I mentioned earlier most medical treatments are free of charge apart from a small non-refundable fee per consultation. The amount varies depending on whether the consultation was with a GP or a specialist, and whether or not the doctor is covered by an agreement such as the Regular GP Scheme, but is normally in at least 100kr. (Approximately Ksh. 1200)
Cancer and other chronic diseases
Prevention is better than cure, so it has been said. Norwegian health system will occasionally send its residents letters asking them to voluntarily participate in cancer and other chronic diseases check up. So when I received such a letter to go for a cancer check up, I happily complied.
I called in to book an appointment with my doctor. My phone call was put in a que, then I was informed I was number 7 on the waiting list and waited for about 15 mins to be attended to. When my turn finally came, a female voice answered, and I said “Hallo, would like to have a doctor’s appointment” I said. I was asked for my doctor’s name and within a minute and without any questioning I was informed the earliest I could make it was in a weeks time. So was booked in the following Friday at 8.45am.
I thought, what would have happened if I needed a doctor’s appointment for an ailment that needed an immediate attention? So when my turn came to see the doctor, I meet his assistant, a beautiful Norwegian lady doctor who happily guided me through the examination. She promised to call me in 4 to 6 weeks, and here I am patiently waiting for my results. Will keep you updated!
Enjoy your weekend, won´t you!!