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Discover life in Sweden

The Swedish welfare system is extensive but complex, with different benefits at different times, usually based upon your employment and migration status. The following is a road map to the various forms of support provided.

Overview of Sweden’s healthcare system: quick facts
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WHAT IS COST STRUCTURE?

Out-of-pocket fee for physician visits (including primary care) and for most visits to other providers.
Each county council sets its own fees, but there is a uniform national ceiling on the total amount that a patient pays during a 12-month period (out-of-pocket ceiling).
Patients pay part of pharmaceutical costs. An out-of-pocket ceiling also applies to pharmaceutical costs.
Health services for children and adolescents are free of charge.
Patient fees (out-of-pocket) account for approximately 3% of the total healthcare costs.

WHO IS COVERED?

Services included are not specified. Rather, three main principles apply to health services: equal access, care based on need, and cost effectiveness. No charge for dental services for children and adolescents up to age 19 years. For adults, some of the more expensive treatments are covered. Free choice of provider. Referral is required in some cases, particularly if the patient chooses a provider outside of his/her own county council.

HOW IS FINANCING HANDLED?

A combination of local and regional taxes, State subsidies and private insurance manage healthcare financing in Sweden. Here is an overview of how it works:

Local/regional taxes
Most of the public financing comes from county council taxes (proportional income tax). This accounts for just over 70% of the healthcare costs. Health services for the elderly and disabled provided at home or in special residential settings are financed mainly by municipal (local) taxes.

State subsidies
National subsidies cover approximately 20% of the costs.

Private insurance
Private insurance covers less than 1% of the population and accounts for approximately 2 thousandths of total financing. Private insurance is not tax deductible.

HOW IS CARE ORGANIZED?

A combination of physicians and hospitals and public input organize care in Sweden. Here is an overview of how it works:

Primary care physicians
Most primary care physicians are employees of the county councils. Some primary care physicians work privately under contract with the county councils.

Hospitals
The are mainly public hospitals that are operated by the county councils. A few private hospitals that generally have contracts with the county councils. Hospital-based ambulatory care physicians are hospital employees.

Public input
Generally, the county councils and municipalities both finance and provide health services. They are responsible for planning and distributing resources. Private providers deliver approximately 10% of health services, 25% in primary care. Increasingly, the national government has presented projectmes and plans for various segments of healthcare. The National Board of Health and Welfare has supervisory responsibilities for personnel and services.


Overview of parental benefits in Sweden

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WHO IS COVERED?

All parents who have a personal identity number and are registered with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Generous parental leave, with a total of 480 days of payment per child. A bonus is paid to parents who split the time evenly. All children who live in Sweden are entitled to child allowance, a monthly, tax-free sum paid to parents until the child reaches the age of 16. After 16, children in full-time education are entitled to a study allowance. A special large family supplement is paid to families with two or more children. Further, if your household salary is below a certain limit, you may be entitled to a housing allowance. Additional benefits are available for parents of children with disabilities or illnesses, both temporary and long-term illnesses.

Parental leave can be taken from 60 days before a child’s delivery date up until his or her eighth birthday. Other forms of payment are offered throughout childhood, either as a standard payment or on an as-needed basis.


Overview of sick leave in Sweden

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WHO IS COVERED?

All employees in Sweden with a Swedish personal identity number. You must also be registered with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency in order to receive benefits after 14 days.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

When you miss work because of illness, you receive sick leave pay for the days missed, generally at the rate of 80 per cent of your normal salary.

Your first day away from work counts as a “waiting period”; you do not receive any sickness pay. After the first day, you receive sickness pay from your employer for 13 days at the rate of 80 per cent of your salary. After this period, you will continue to receive 80 per cent of your salary from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. You’ll need a doctor’s note for absences longer than seven days; if you have a longer absence planned, such as recovery from a surgery, you should discuss this with your employer beforehand when possible.


Overview of unemployment benefits in Sweden

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WHO IS COVERED?

Employees in Sweden who have been a member of an unemployment insurance fund (arbetslöshetskassa) for at least a year and who have lost their jobs. Being able to stay in Sweden while unemployed also depends on your immigration status.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Unemployment benefit is based on your previous income level (usually 80 per cent up to a certain limit). It is your responsibility to sign up for an unemployment insurance fund, usually administered by trade unions. Your fees and benefits will depend on your field of work and on the fund you choose.

Bear in mind that unemployment benefit is designed to support you during a limited period of time while you apply for a new job. To be eligible, you must be actively looking for a new job and willing to apply for jobs suggested by the Public Employment Service.

If you become unemployed, you should contact your unemployment insurance fund to find out how to apply for benefit.


Overview of pension and retirement in Sweden

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WHO IS COVERED?

Retirees are eligible for a guaranteed state pension as well as an employment-based pension. The standard retirement age in Sweden is 65, though some choose to retire as soon as 55.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Throughout your working life, you will accumulate pension that is then guaranteed as a base monthly amount upon retirement. Many employers also make extra monthly payments to a so-called occupational pension, which is based on collective agreements. As such, the Swedish pension system is often pictured as a pyramid, with your basic, guaranteed income pension forming the base of the pyramid, your employer contributions in the middle, and any personal pension savings at the top.

Part of your basic pension, called the premium pension, is in your control. You can choose to place this part of your pension in any of a number of market-based pension funds.

Regardless of when you retire, the total amount of your pension remains the same. If you choose to go into early retirement, you should therefore be aware that your monthly payments will be reduced accordingly. It is also possible to keep working beyond the normal retirement age of 65 in order to maintain larger monthly payments.

Overview of elderly care in Sweden

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Overview of elderly care in Sweden

Click the +/- symbols beside each question listed below to find information. Do not hesitate to contact us for additional queries.

WHO IS COVERED?

The elderly represent a large and growing part of the Swedish population, with current life expectancy estimates at 84 for women and 80 for men. Many elderly are in good health and lead active lives with support services provided by the state or private contractors. Provided you have a Swedish personal identity number, you will be eligible for the same elderly care as all other residents of Sweden.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

A number of welfare systems ensure that elderly citizens are able to lead independent lives. Elderly can live in their own homes for as long as possible thanks to support including meal delivery, cleaning and shopping assistance, and transportation services. Senior housing and retirement homes are also available for those who need more support. Costs are largely subsidised by the state. If you or an elderly parent do not speak Swedish, interpreters can often be provided. It is usually possible to start receiving elderly care at the age of retirement, or 65.

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