Eight things you need to know about health in Denmark
1) CPR Card
When you register for your CPR card (or Yellow card as it is commonly referred to) you get access to all public health services from a General Practitioner, hospital treatment, consultants and maternity treatment. There are some health services which you do have to pay an extra contribution for and they are physiotherapy and chiropractors.
When you a register you are asked if you have a preference of a GP. You can search for GPs in your area on the Sundhed website (https://www.sundhed.dk) but currently there are very few taking new patients in Copenhagen so you may simply have to choose the nearest one to you with available places. It is possible to change your doctor in the future and there is an admin fee for this as you will need a new yellow card.
You must always take your yellow card to the doctors and you can find the name of your doctor the address and telephone number printed on the card.
2) At the doctors
The method of making an appointment with your doctor can vary from surgery to surgery. Some will use an online booking system and others will have their phone lines open from 8am until 9am. It is best to check with your doctor what the system is at their place.
Many doctors are happy to speak in English with you if you need but again it is worth checking with them before you register.
You will find that doctors here can be quite pragmatic to their approach to common ailments and do not hand out antibiotics unless there is a real reason for them. Neither will they send you for any tests unless they really feel there is a need for them. As health is covered by taxes and not by insurance companies there needs to be a concrete reason for treatment. You can expect to be sent home with the advice to rest, drink warm drinks and take a paracetamol if you have a cold.
3) Private Healthcare
Very few people in Denmark have private health insurance as there is a high level of satisfaction with the public services, however one of the problems you may encounter is waiting lists for certain types of either surgery or consultations.
Some companies offer their employees private health insurance and this means that you can avoid waiting times, or you can choose to go to a specific private hospital. In general, people are very happy with the public service that they receive, and there’s also a rule that if you have to wait a certain amount of time for a consultation at a hospital through the public service, if it is too long, then they will pay for you to go and see a private consultant if there one available.
There is also a health mutual insurance company here, and it’s simply called Danmark (https://www.sygeforsikring.dk), which can get you reimbursement for glasses and dental treatment which aren’t covered under the free services. And also, if you regularly take any medication, you can get a discount on the prescription medication that you take.
4) Emergency Rooms and 1813
You can’t just turn up at your local emergency room (skadestuen) if you’ve hurt yourself or you need treatment. You must call 1813 phone line first unless you are in a life threatening situation. When you call they triage you, so you will actually speak to a medical professional at the other end of the phone.
Normally they can speak to you in English if you need and if they don’t they’ll quickly put you back on the waiting then they’ll get an English speaker to speak to you.
They will actually triage you on the phone, and they will decide how urgent your treatment is, and also which hospital has the shortest waiting time at that time for you to go to and the relevant facilities rather than sending you to closest one to your home.
In Denmark there is no flat fee for prescriptions so you pay for the cost of that medication, although it is partially subsidised so you’re not paying the full amount. To save money you can ask for the cheapest version of the medication that you have been prescribed.
But again, we live in a very fair society in Denmark, and we have a sliding scale about how much you actually have to pay for your prescriptions. The more you have to pay for prescriptions, the less you end up paying gradually through the year. So, if for example you just have the odd prescription from your GP through the year, you’ll pay the full amount. But as you’re paying more and more, it all accumulates under your CPR number, and you pay a lesser percentage each time.
6) Sundhed website
On this health website (https://www.sundhed.dk) that you can log in by using your CPR number and nemID and you can see all of your health records. You can see all the notes from your GP or hospital appointments, as well as your children’s records. You can refer back to them at any time.
7) Dental Care
Dental care is not covered under the public health and you will have to pay towards your dental treatment. With your CPR number you get some discount on the price of your dental care.
8) European health insurance card (Blue Card)
If you are travelling outside of Denmark anywhere in the EU you need to get a blue European health insurance card. You take it with you when you travel to any other European country, and you will receive the same treatment that you would receive in Denmark with your yellow card. It is totally free and you can apply online for everybody in your household.
For more detailed information on the health service this is an excellent website HERE.
To see what you can get from the pharmacy (apotek) this video gives a good overview.
Melanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for ten years. She writes about life in Copenhagen on her blog She has written a number of practical ebooks about living in Denmark and her new ebook ‘Moving to Copenhagen – all you need to know’ is now available.
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