Healthcare in Denmark

The public health services are extensive and of quality Denmark’s state healthcare service is highly efficient and offers good quality care to its citizens. Its structure is decentralised; local authorities are the decision makers in executing healthcare policy. The Ministry of the Interior and Health issue guidelines, which the local authorities must follow.

The State Health Service
The Danish health service is financed by progressive income taxes. Around 27 percent of the population have private health insurance, which usually tops up their national healthcare needs and provides cover for dentistry and expenses for medicines.

The public health insurance ensures that all citizens and resident foreigners receive the same access to the public health services. The public health insurance is financed by taxes.

Every citizen and registered long-term resident has access to state health insurance.  The insurance covers free medical consultations from doctors and specialists. There are subsidised fees for prescription drugs, treatment from dentists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. Subsidies varies in relation to the treatment received and are subtracted from the final bill.

Citizens must register with the Danish Health Insurance service that provides them with a yellow health insurance certificate. This document validates your cover and shows your name, address and CPR number. Children up to 16 years of age receive their own health insurance certificate but they are insured through a parent.

There are two categories of insurance groups in Denmark, simply known as Insurance group 1 and 2.

Insurance group 1 covers the majority of the population. If you belong to this group, you have to choose one doctor or health centre to act as your family GP. The name and phone number of this doctor will be displayed on your yellow health insurance certificate. You must bring the certificate with you when you need treatment. If your certificate is lost, damaged or stolen, you have to pay for a new one.

Under group 1 insurance, all consultations with the doctor and a specialist, under referral from your doctor, are free. Consultations and treatment from dentists, podiatrists, psychologists, chiropractors and physiotherapists are subsidised.

Citizens may opt to join insurance group 2 and pay a higher rate of contribution. If you belong to this group, you can receive treatment from any GP or health centre. You can also consult specialist doctors without a referral. The health insurance subsidises your fees in line with those given to insurance group 1, but anything over this amount must be paid in full by the individual. Treatment by a podiatrist, psychologist, dentist, chiropractor or physiotherapist is given under the same terms as for category 1 insurance.

If you move to Denmark from an EEA country (EU member states plus Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland) or from Croatia, Turkey, Switzerland, Morocco, Macedonia, Pakistan, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina you will be covered by the Danish state health service providing you were covered by the public health insurance in your country. You must show proof of coverage and form E104 at the time of registering with the Danish authorities.

If you are going to reside in Denmark for less than one year, you can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but you must also have form E106 if you intend to stay more than 1 year.

Citizens from the above group of countries who are not covered by their home countries state insurance and citizens from countries not listed above will not qualify for Danish health care services until 6 weeks after registering with the Danish authorities.

Citizens are able to register with the doctor of their choice so long as he works within 10 km of their home, but there are some restrictions. On registering with the state health insurance system, you receive a list of doctors practicing in your area. Citizens belonging to insurance group 1 must choose one doctor from the list and register with him. He will only accept your registration if he is has room for new patients. The list actually shows which doctors are open to new patients. The health authority, then add that doctors name to your health insurance certificate. If at anytime, you wish to change GP, you have to notify your local health authority and pay for a new health insurance certificate. It takes around 14 days to process this request.

Citizens who belong to insurance group 2 do not have to specify a name of one doctor and are able to consult any GP whenever the need arises.

If you require a consultation with your doctor, you must make an appointment. Often you will be seen that day or at worst, the day after. Doctors also have one-hour phone consultations every day. If you require treatment by a specialist doctor, you must get a referral from your doctor. 

Danish doctors are open from 8 am to 4 pm. Some doctors open for a longer period one day in every week.

If a medical emergency arises and you need treatment outside of your doctor’s surgery hours, you can contact the county emergency doctor. He may advise you over the phone or make a house visit. Be sure to have your insurance documents at hand, as he will need all of your details.

If you belong to insurance group 1, you will need your doctor to refer you to a specialist consultant. However, if you need to consult an ear, nose and throat or eye specialist you may do so without a referral.

If you belong to insurance group 2, you do not need a referral to consult a specialist. Regardless of the group you belong to, you must make your own appointment. Specialists tend to have long waiting lists.

Some specialists have agreements with the state insurance scheme. Those that do not will charge a fee. Those that do will provide free treatment to insurance group 1 patients. Patients belonging to insurance group 2 receive the same amount of subsidy as group 1 patients, but may incur additional charges if for example they are given priority treatment.

Most Danish hospitals are run by each of Denmark’s 14 the counties. All treatment is free. You care entitled to an interpreter if the doctor deems it necessary.

You may be treated in the hospital of your choice, but you must be referred by a doctor unless you are in a life threatening condition.

Hospitals in Denmark have waiting lists and the length of them depends on the type of treatment you require. The Ministry of Interior and Health’s website provides information on waiting lists.

Private Hospitals
Denmark has many private hospitals and clinics, where patients or their private insurance companies must pay for all treatment received.

Emergency Departments
Emergency departments are located within main hospitals. They are open all day, all year round. You may attend them if you need emergency treatment for an illness or injury, which has occurred within the previous 24 hours. Some emergency departments may not see you unless you have a doctor’s referral.

All treatment is free for Danish and registered citizens, but you need to bring your yellow health insurance certificate with you.

Alternative treatment
Denmark offers its citizens a wide range of alternative therapies like osteopathy and kinesiology, but only acupuncture is subsidised. To receive the subsidy your doctor has to gain consent from the public healthcare service. 

Danish pharmacies sell prescription and over-the-counter medicine as well as naturopathic medicine, which have to be approved by the Danish Medicines Agency.