How Norway’s Health Insurance Scheme Works and Common Problems Foreigners Face

How Norways Health Insurance Scheme Works and Common Problems Foreigners

Norwegian National Health Insurance Scheme

The word “free” is used loosely when it comes to describing healthcare in the Scandinavian country. The Norwegian health system is financed by state and municipal taxes. Thus, residents support their “free” services through taxation. Truly free health insurance is only offered to those under 16 who do not pay taxes in Norway.

Access to health care and social services in Norway is not determined by whether you are a Norwegian citizen, registered in the National Population Register or paying taxes in Norway. It is based on residence or employment. But before you settle in and assume you’re covered from day one, there are some provisions.

To be considered a resident of Norway, you must intend to live in the country for at least twelve months. Membership in the Norwegian National Health Insurance Scheme is only available to those who are legally in the country. If you plan to stay in Norway for less than twelve months, do not work but have strong ties to the country, then you may be eligible for voluntary membership in the Norwegian National Health Insurance Scheme.

If you live legally in Norway but plan to study or work abroad for a while, look here to see your eligibility for healthcare membership outside the country.

What about the common problems that foreigners have to overcome?

According to the Norwegian Labor and Social Welfare Administration (NAV), you will automatically be enrolled in the Norwegian National Health Insurance Scheme if you work or live legally in Norway.

Processing times can range from a few days to a month, and you will usually receive a confirmation in the mail when you have been added to the system.

Health care forms a large part of the Norwegian national health insurance scheme, as do social services such as social assistance. If you need economic support, you can apply for assistance if you are legally resident in the country. The amount you will receive depends on your situation and application processing times vary between each individual assessment and each municipality.

READ MORE: Seven things foreigners in Norway should know about the healthcare system

There are many rules and guidelines if you decide to apply for economic aid. To see what procedures, information and advice you are entitled to, look here.

Self-employed workers are also entitled to the same benefits as traditional employees in Norway. Although it is up to them to record events such as sick leave themselves.

The health system in Norway is of a high standard and covers most of the expenses. Because it is so comprehensive, many newcomers to the country assume that all health issues are covered by national health insurance. It is important to remember that vision and dental insurance are not part of the public health care plan.

Dental care is free for people aged 1 to 18. If you are 19 or 20, you have to pay 25% of the total bill. If you are 21 or over, you have to foot the bill.

However, there are exemptions for special cases. You can read more about payment exceptions here.

Eye exams, contact lenses and glasses are not covered by public health insurance. These are normally services offered by private companies such as Spec Savers and Brilleland.

In addition to vision and dental care, cosmetic surgeries are also not covered by public health insurance.

Here is a price list for common services in Norway.

What is a frikort?

A frikort or “exemption card” is a card issued after you have reached the maximum limit of fees that the public is required to pay per calendar year. In 2021, the maximum amount of fees that you have to pay is 2,460 crowns before being eligible for a frikort.

Many things have gone digital

Many newcomers to Norway are surprised at how digitized health services in the country are. Once you’ve become a member of the National Insurance Plan, you can go online to order prescriptions, find available appointments with your GP, have digital communication with their doctor, and view appointment summaries. past medical.

For an overview of all the services and information you can use online, look here.

If you can join the National Health Insurance Scheme automatically, it is up to you to choose your general practitioner.

There are a few guidelines to know if for some reason you want to change your original choice. You are allowed to change GPs up to two times in a year. You can also choose to change if you officially change your address or if your GP is reducing their patient list. You can find a list of general practitioners on

As previously stated, the standard of healthcare in Norway is high and you can visit your GP or specialist as often as you need. But it is not uncommon to have to wait a few weeks before finding an available appointment. The same goes for non-critical surgeries. It is not uncommon to wait up to six months for a non-fatal but necessary surgery.

Useful vocabulary


GP – general practitioner

optiker – optometrist

dentist – dentist

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