Health Care Denmark has a very comprehensive health care system, which is funded through your tax contributions. The medical system in Denmark is often criticized for being bad, while at other times it is hailed as being FANTASTIC! So, I guess you will have to make your own decision once you have been part of the medical care system in Denmark.
Everyone who has a CPR number and a residence permit is eligible for free medical care. Once you are registered and a have your residence permit, you will be issued a health insurance card/sundhedskort or as some call it a "CPR card". You must carry this card with you to access the health care Denmark system.
You will be able to choose your own doctor (within your kommune) and a dentist. When you apply for your CPR card, you will choose your doctor. You can choose a dentist whenever you wish. See the section on CPR card for more information on this process.
FYI: Little known fact among expats. You do not have to choose one of the doctors listed on the kommune list. If you decide to use one of them you are classified as a CLASS 1. If you wish to find your own doctor (which is your right), you will be classified as a CLASS 2.
If you are a CLASS 2, you will need to pay for your doctor fees yourself and submit the receipts for refund. The problem with this is that you will only get refunded the standard amounts allowed by the government. Your doctor may charge more or the same? You will be responsible for the difference. You will also need recommendations to see other specialists that a CLASS 1 would not need. Only choose this method if you can afford it and have a doctor in mind that you know and wish to see.
2012 Update: New rules are coming into effect which will apply to people who wish to use private hospitals versus the state run ones for certain operations. It has been a growing trend to use private hospitals for operations when the waiting times were too long at state run hospitals. Instead of waiting up to a year for a hip operation, you could get it at a private hospital within a month. You paid the fee and got reimbursed the cost from the health service. Well that is changing. Now many operations will not be paid for at private hospitals. There is talk of operations for knees, shoulder, eyebrows, back and weight problems. This list will probably grow as the government tries to reduce costs more and more. Check to make sure you are covered or can afford the operation before going to a private hospital.
What does the Health Care Denmark System cover?
1. Basic doctor health care from your local doctor. Examinations, routine treatment and health care Denmark advice.
2. Emergency and after hours care. (lægevagten)
3. Hospital treatment, hospital stay, surgery and aftercare.
4. Dental treatment allowance.
5. Prescription drug allowance.
6. Physiotherapy allowance
7. Osteopathic allowance
8. Pyschotherapy allowance.
9. Chiropractic allowance.
What Denmark Health Care Denmark System does not cover?
1. Fertility treatment - limited funding.
2. Cosmetic surgery - elective
3. The cost of your prescriptions, physiotherapy, chiropractic, pyschotheraphy, ostepathic care excluding your allowance.
4. Other procedures are possibly on the cutting block as the government tries to trim their overhead.
Learn more about your prescription drug allowance here.
When you get sick, you should call your own doctor first. Normal phone hours are between 8am and 9am to talk to your doctor and get an appointment. If you call after that time, you will get a receptionist and she can take a message or set an appointment for you.
Depending on your illness and how busy your practice is, it is possible to get a same day appointment, but it is not unusual to have to wait several days to see a doctor.
If your problem needs the expertise of a specialist, your doctor will set an appointment for you or give you a "henvisning" (referral). This does not apply to chiropractors, ear nose and throat specialists, dentists and opthamologists.
Normal hours for consultations is between 9am and 4pm. This may vary from practice to practice. Many have late hours one night a week.
If you get ill or need non acute medical care outside of normal working hours, you can call the lægevagt.
This is a number you should have handy. The lægevagt is an after hour service, where doctors in your area take shifts answering emergency calls and doing home visits.
Below is a list of lægevagt numbers for the health care Denmark doctors. You can only call the number that is for your area. If you live in Zealand, you can not call the number for Funen.
This is what will happen when you call a lægevagt.
Make sure you have your CPR number handy, address of where you are calling from and if you are calling for someone else, as much personal information as you can gather.
If calling from a landline telephone number, they will have your address automatically. If calling from a mobile, they will usually need the address from where you are calling.
There are also lægevagt at the local hospitals, but you should always call the above numbers first and be told to go to the hospital lægevagt. You may not be attended to if you have not called in first. Very important to remember that fact.
Now if you think it is an emergency, get someone to start driving you to the hospital lægevagt and than call on the way and explain the situation. This may save you a lot of time and get treatment sooner, but you must be advised before checking in at the hospital.
When you enter a hospital lægevagt, you need to run your CPR Card through the card reader.
They are usually located close to the door as you enter. If you do not scan your card, the doctor will not know you are there and also you will not be in the queue to see a doctor.
To learn more about how a lægevagten works and some of the conditions, check out Lægevagten. The site is in Danish, but copy the web address into "google translate" and see it all in English or your favorite language.
Remember: There is no fee for seeing a doctor or going to the hospital. You pay for that through your taxes.
If it is an EMERGENCY call 112. This is the number for the emergency services, like Falck or if you need an ambulance, etc.. This is for emergencies only! Heart attacks, can't breath, life threatening situations. Please do not call for medical advice on illness. Call the lægevagt for that.
This is a major problem with health care Denmark, but the government is trying to solve this issue.
Waiting times can be VERY long. Now the times have come down alot and you can do things to shorten your wait.
The government has now allowed people who have a waiting time of over 1 month, to check for hospitals with shorter waiting lists.
Once you have gotten a referral, you can check out other hospitals that might have a shorter waiting time. You are allowed to go one of them if they will accept you.
Some surgery is also allowed to be taken outside of Denmark and the health service will cover most of the cost.
Beware: You may have pay a portion yourself. Here is where having additional medical insurance can really pay off. Always check with your local kommune before heading out for surgery in another country.
Here you can check out health care denmark waiting times for operations.