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Most public health centres charge highest permitted doctor fees

The Department of Health and Welfare probed customer fees and collection practices at Finnish health centres since 2013.

Lääkäri kuuntelee potilaan rintaa stetoskoopilla.
File photo. Image: AP Graphics Bank

An increasing number of municipalities in Finland are levying the highest permitted customer fee for a doctor visit, according to a recent study by the Health and Welfare Institute (THL).

In 2018, 70 percent of Finns lived in a municipality that charged the maximum fee stipulated in health centre regulations for seeing a doctor. In 2016, the corresponding figure was 44 percent.

Typically, municipalities can charge residents for three doctor visits per year — a maximum of 20.60 euros per visit. The study found differences between the fee collection methods of municipalities — with nearly half of Finns living in municipalities, where they also have to pay for treatment by a nurse.

THL investigated the customer fees and collection practices at health centres in 2013-18.

New govt programme aims to reduce fees

The healthcare fee cap was raised significantly in early 2016 — the maximum cost of a visit to a health centre was hiked from 16.10 euros to 20.90 euros. Following this, index adjustments have been made for payments.

The new government in its programme has set a goal of renewing the Act on social and health care client fees, as it intends to expand the scope of free services available and reduce fees.

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