It’s difficult not to envy the Norwegian lifestyle – the relaxed way of life, the acres upon acres of nature to explore, the good work-life balance. It’s no wonder Norway is ranked the 7th happiest country in the world.

And to top it all off, the Norwegians have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. So, if you’re planning on moving to Norway, you’re in for a real treat. We’ve outlined the need-to-know facts about the Norwegian healthcare system below.

If you’ve already decided that private health insurance is right for you, we recommend Cigna. Helping more than 95 million customers all over the world, Cigna has the experience and expertise to get you just the right cover.

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A view of the sunset in Norway

A pastel sunset washes over the snow-laden town of Nusfjord, Norway

Norwegian healthcare: key statistics

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    % of population with private medical insurance
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    Average life expectancy
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    Doctors per 1,000 people

How does the Norwegian healthcare system work?

Norway’s healthcare system, like many other Nordic countries, is arguably one of the best in the world. Each resident, whether Norwegian or foreign, is automatically enrolled into the country's universal healthcare scheme.

Similar to its Nordic neighbours, Norway’s healthcare system has a ‘municipal structure’, which basically means the kind of treatments and doctors available to you will vary depending on the kommune (region) you’re in.

Is healthcare free in Norway?

Norway’s polished reputation misleads many into thinking the healthcare system is free for residents. In reality, patients usually have to make copayments for GP and hospital services, as well as for prescriptions. Plus, this system has two main funding sources: the general tax system, and household out-of-pocket payments. Contribution rates for National Insurance are around 8–9% of your gross salary.

Prescriptions are split into two categories: blue, which are covered fully or partly by the National Insurance Scheme, and white, which are not generally covered.

If the annual cost of white prescriptions exceeds NOK 1,927 (£165.77), you’ll be pleased to know that it’s possible to receive a subsidy to make it more affordable.

Data from Statista

Quality of healthcare in Norway

The quality of healthcare in Norway is generally at a very high standard.

According to The Lancet’s analysis of healthcare systems across the world in 2019, Norway is up there with the best. The study includes an index, which rates healthcare systems’ effectiveness on a scale of 0-100 – with Norway scoring an impressive 94.

So what can you expect to be covered? We’ve listed the main services below:

  • Primary and ambulatory care
  • Hospital care
  • Mental health treatment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Outpatient prescription drugs
  • Maternity care
  • Home-based care and palliative care
  • Medical equipment on a needs basis
  • Dental care for children up to age 18, people with chronic diseases, nursing home residents, and other prioritised groups

Norway certainly looks after its residents – especially its most vulnerable. In fact, the majority of long-term care recipients (70%) are able to receive care at home, while 10% live in sheltered or assisted housing facilities, which are independent housing arrangements in between home and institutional care.

Finding a doctor is also generally easy. Once you sign up to the National Registry, you’re assigned to a local doctor, and can choose your general practitioner from an approved list.

Norway's excellent healthcare system is partly down to the government providing enough funding. In the past five years, public health expenditure per person has increased by 18.4%, according to data sourced from Statista.

However, like pretty much any healthcare system around the world, you can expect a bit of a wait for your treatment in Norway. If you have to go to the hospital for your treatment, you could have to wait up to three months before being admitted into a public hospital.

Healthcare in Norway for foreigners

Good news for expats – once you register as a resident living in Norway for more than three months, you’re entitled to the same level of state healthcare as a Norwegian citizen.

If you’re either employed or self-employed, all you have to do is make contributions to the National Insurance Scheme each month, and you’ll be able to receive care.

According to the UK government, if you’ve been living in Norway since before 1 January 2021, your right to access healthcare in Norway will stay the same for as long as you remain resident. This means you may also be entitled to:

  • A Norwegian EHIC for travel, including visits to the UK
  • A UK S1 (a healthcare certificate that entitles you, and any dependants, to healthcare in another EU country) if you start drawing a UK State Pension

For any Brits moving to Norway after this date, you’ll still be able to use the Norwegian healthcare system, but you won’t be eligible for the EHIC or the UK S1.

Do I need health insurance in Norway?

Since healthcare in Norway is subsidised, you don’t have to invest in private health insurance. However, health insurance could help you avoid any nasty financial surprises. For each treatment, you’ll still need to pay a co-payment – and if you have any long-term or ongoing illnesses, the fees can be at risk of stacking up quickly.

Plus, for-profit insurers offer quicker access to outpatient services, as well as a greater choice of private providers. Overall, roughly 10% of Norway’s population (around 500,000 people) has some kind of private insurance. Thanks to Norway’s work ethic, about 90% of these policies are paid for by an employer, so you might not even have to look into different health insurance options on your own.

If your employer doesn’t offer insurance (or you’re self-employed or retired), we recommend Cigna. Helping more than 95 million customers all over the world, Cigna has the experience and expertise to get you just the right cover.

Start building a customised plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets – you and your family.

lake in Norway with mountains in the background

Crystal clear waters in Lovatnet lake, with dramatic Norwegian mountains in the background

Benefits of private medical cover in Norway

The benefits of medical cover will vary depending on which plan you go for. Generally, you can expect the following:

  • Avoid long waiting times
  • Have access to a network of private hospitals and specialists
  • Medical cover often includes after-treatment and rehabilitation
  • Many plans include access to an in-house team of medical experts, available on the phone 24/7
  • Have more control over where you’re treated and who you’re treated by

How much does health insurance cost in Norway?

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. Overall, the average cost of local insurers' plans come to roughly 508 NOK (£43.66) per month. However, the cost of health insurance in Norway will depend on a number of things – with the type of plan and level of coverage being the main factors that see the price tag fluctuate.

Other factors that determine the cost of health insurance include:

  • Age of the person/people being covered – The higher the age, the more expensive the cover
  • Area of cover – If you’re looking to be covered in other countries as well as Norway, this increases the bill
  • Illnesses – If you have any ongoing health issues, this will also increase the price
  • Payment frequency – Yearly packages usually cost less than a month-by-month payment scheme
  • Gender – Women are more likely to pay more for health insurance than men, which mainly comes down to the cost of giving birth

Since there are so many variables that can affect the cost of private medical insurance in Norway, it’s difficult to provide an estimated cost.

If you’d like to find out how much private health insurance will cost you and your loved ones, you can start building a customised plan with Cigna. This free quote will help you protect your most important assets – you and your family.

Advice for people moving to Norway

If you’re moving to Norway, you’ve got a lot to look forward to. Living in this breathtaking country means you can hunt for the Nordic Northern Lights, explore endless local delicacies, and venture through some of Europe’s most spectacular landscapes – all of which are on your doorstep.

To find out more, check out some of our articles on Norway: