Healthcare in Denmark
Denmark is a serious high achiever. Its design industry is revolutionary, its cuisine is delicious, and its green energy is glorious – no wonder 700,000 global expats have decided to call it their new home.
Whether you’re moving to Denmark for the breathtaking scenery, excellent education opportunities, or its progressive work-life balance, there's lots to enjoy. Even its healthcare system ranks higher than most other countries in the EU.
But before you head off to this Nordic country, it’s wise to suss out which healthcare options are available to you and your family. Luckily for you, we’ve outlined everything you need to know below.
If you've decided that you need health insurance before you head to Denmark, check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.
Danish healthcare: key statistics
- 0Average life expectancy
- 0Healthcare system ranking /100
- 0Total % of out-of-pocket spending
What’s on this page?
01 | How does Denmark's healthcare system work?
02 | Is healthcare free in Denmark?
03 | Quality of healthcare in Denmark
04 | Healthcare in Denmark for foreigners
05 | Do I need health insurance in Denmark?
06 | Benefits of private medical cover in Denmark
07 | How much does health insurance cost in Denmark?
08 | Advice for expats moving to Denmark
How does Denmark’s healthcare system work?
Anyone registered as a resident in Denmark will automatically be enrolled into the public healthcare system, and provided with a state health insurance card (also known as ‘the yellow health card’, or Sundhedskort). You’ll need to show this card to the GP or hospital staff if you want your care to come cost-free.
This universal health system is mainly financed through national income tax. It covers:
- Primary and preventive care
- Specialist care
- Hospital care, including inpatient prescription drugs
- Mental health care (only partly covered)
- Long-term care
- Dental services for children under the age of 18
Other services – such as outpatient prescription drugs, adult dental care, physiotherapy, and optometry services – are partially covered through subsidies.
The level of care you’ll receive in Denmark will depend on the area that you’re in, since the medical sector is organised and financed by the country's municipalities. Basically, some areas might provide things that others don’t. This is one of the main reasons why some people invest in private insurance in Denmark, so it’s worth checking whether your new city or town has the right facilities.
Lining the 17th-century waterfront, these beautiful houses add a splash of colour to Copenhagen
Is healthcare free in Denmark?
Most medical care provided by the public healthcare system in Denmark is free, as long as you remember to show your yellow card upon arrival. You will, however, have to pay for some things, including dental services (if you’re over 18 years old), prescriptions, and sessions with psychologists.
Since healthcare is financed mainly through tax, part of your wage will go towards healthcare services each month – usually around 8% of your gross salary.
You might also qualify for subsidies on your prescriptions. Check out the table below to see whether you’ll be entitled to cheaper medication.
|Annual outpatient prescription drug expenditure||Subsidies for adults||Subsidies for children up to age 18|
|DKK 0–65 (£0–£112)||0%||60%|
|DKK 965–1,595 (£112–£185)||50%||60%|
|DKK 1,595–3,455 (£185–£401)||75%||75%|
|DKK 3,455–4,030 (£401–£467)||85%||85%|
|DKK 4,030 + (£467+)||100%||100%|
Source: The Common Wealth Fund
Quality of healthcare in Denmark
Denmark has raised the bar for the standard of healthcare – scoring a total of 84 out of 100 in The Lancet’s annual healthcare index.
The country's healthcare system is far more efficient than a lot of other developed countries. A key example of this is Denmark’s number of treatable causes of mortality, which is lower than the EU average. The leading treatable causes of mortality – colorectal and breast cancer, ischaemic heart diseases, and stroke – fell by 16% between 2011 and 2016.
The OECD also praised Denmark for introducing policies to reduce waiting times, which have led to waiting times for cataract surgery falling from about 70 days in 2008 to 50 days in 2012, and less than 40 days by 2017.
Perhaps the most impressive thing to note is that unmet needs for medical care due to cost, distance, or waiting times were only reported by 1% of the population in 2017. Plus, within this group, there’s almost no difference in reports from people in the lowest and highest income areas.
One of the main negative factors of Denmark’s healthcare system, however, is that only about 20% of doctors are GPs (with the other 80% being more specialist practitioners working in hospitals). As a result, Denmark faces shortages – particularly in rural and isolated areas, such as the more remote islands and the northern part of the country.
So, if you’re considering moving to a quiet area of Denmark, it’s worth looking into the benefits of private medical insurance, to make sure you’ll always have a doctor on hand if you need one.
Healthcare in Denmark for foreigners
All Danish residents can access public healthcare, no matter where they’re from – making life much easier for any expats hoping to relocate here. All you have to do is flash your yellow health card and you’re good to go!
Although foreigners benefit from the country’s public healthcare system, they also need to pay for certain services, which is why it’s a good idea to cover your back with medical insurance.
Just check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.
Do I need health insurance in Denmark?
Since a large portion of healthcare is free and available to residents in Denmark, you won’t necessarily have to get health insurance. But if you can afford it, there's no reason not to have that extra support available – especially if you're moving to a remote part of Denmark, or if you really hate the idea of medical waiting times.
Residents have two main options: complementary voluntary health insurance, and supplemental insurance. Complementary voluntary health insurance covers statutory co-payments, and any other services not fully covered by the state. Overall, roughly 2.45 million Danes (42%) go for this option, which is provided almost exclusively by the nonprofit organisation Danmark.
On the other hand, nearly 1.69 million Danes (30%) choose to have supplemental insurance. This isn’t classed as private insurance, but does give you access to some private facilities (although users of this service will have to pay a co-payment). With this option, you might be able to receive care from a variety of private providers – mostly for physiotherapy and elective surgeries.
Benefits of private medical cover in Denmark
Private health insurance can offer a few extra things that Denmark’s state healthcare can’t, including:
- On-demand access to a network of private hospitals (in addition to public ones)
- Shorter waiting times
- Access to better facilities
- Cover for ongoing expenses, such as dental appointments and prescriptions
There’s no denying that Denmark’s healthcare system is top-notch, and its insurance options are affordable too, which is great news for expats. There are, however, a few circumstances where private medical cover trumps all.
The most obvious example is for anyone with a long-standing illness that needs a lot of support from professionals. Private medical cover is also particularly useful for anyone considering moving to a remote part of Denmark – like other remote parts of the world, availability of care drops slightly in these areas.
Dotted around Denmark, you'll find these traditional, quaint Scandinavian communities
How much does health insurance cost in Denmark?
As a broad overview, health insurance in Denmark usually costs around 130 DKK (£15) per month for adults, or 1,560 DKK (£181) annually. However, the price may increase as you age, and some insurers might not offer services for 65-year-olds or older.
Unfortunately, there is no one set price when it comes to private health insurance. The amount you’re billed will depend on a range of factors, including:
- The region you’re moving to
- Whether you’ve had any previous health issues
- The provider you opt for
- The amount of coverage
Thankfully, there’s a way to get a more accurate idea of pricing – just check out our list of recommended healthcare providers.
From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.
Advice for expats moving to Denmark
Every corner of Denmark has something new to offer – whether it’s Copenhagen’s creative flair or Odense’s rich Viking history.
Plus, whilst you explore this beautiful country, you can rest assured that if you need to use the healthcare system, you’ll be in good hands.
Also our Moving to Denmark from the US is great for citizens from America.