Finns flock to Estonia for private healthcare

 

Because of long queues for surgery and expensive private health care at home, an increasing number of Finns are going to private hospitals in Estonia.

The affordable rates at Estonian dental clinics have long attracted Finns. Now more Finns are also going there for outpatient surgery at Estonian private hospitals. The reason is that the local healthcare system is less efficient than it was, and queues for surgery are growing. There is little competition in the Finnish private healthcare system, and this means high prices.

One Estonian healthcare business is Medimatkat, which offers operations for varicose veins, gall bladders and knee joint keyhole surgery. Medimatkat, has worked in Finland, and says that patients here suffer from an inefficient health care system and surgery queues.  It has a Finnish partner, Medifi Healthcare Travels, which believes that health care travel to Estonia will increase in the future. Medifi is a medical tourism agency specializing in sending Finns to Estonia, Sweden, Germany and India.

In 2012 Finnish social insurance fund Kela paid over 350,000 euros in health insurance compensations for services bought in Estonia. An operation carried out in Estonia may only cost a third of the Finnish price -- and patients can often get Kela to pay for part of the cost, under the new EU cross-border healthcare rules. Kela opened a cross-border healthcare information unit in January, after a new act was passed to comply with the latest directive.

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