Private social and health services

Private social and health services supplement public services. Private service providers, such as companies, associations and foundations, may sell their services either to municipalities, joint municipal authorities or directly to clients.

Throughout the 2000s the amount of social and health services companies and associations has continually increased. Private service providers produce a quarter of all social and health services.

The MSAH drafts legislation on services and is responsible for the overall guidance of private service production.

Legislation concerning private social and health services:

The MSAH strategy for social and health policy and the Government Programme emphasise that

  • private social and health services supplement municipal services and provide an alternative to them
  • legislation concerning private social and health services will be combined and clarified
  • public and private sector supervision will be standardized

The growing demand for social and health services

The demand for social and health services continues to increase due to population ageing. In order to meet this demand private services are needed in addition to public ones.

The most usual private social services include

  • service accommodation for older people
  • home services for older people and people with disabilities
  • child and youth institutional and family care
  • child day care

The most usual private health services include

  • physiotherapy services
  • consultations with doctors and dentists
  • occupational health care

A large amount of private health service providers operate in the large urban areas of southern Finland.

Fees and reimbursements

Municipalities may buy private social and health services designed for clients. In this way the client pays for services according to the act on client fees.

Payment for private services procured by municipalities can be paid for using service vouchers. Municipalities or joint municipal authorities decide whether or not to use service vouchers and for what services they issue service vouchers.

Sickness insurance reimburses patients with part of the costs of private doctors' and dentists' fees. Reimbursements are claimed from the Social Insurance Institution (Kela).

Licenced activities

The provision of social services is subject to license for round-the-clock services. In other cases, municipalities in which services are provided must be notified in writing concerning them.

The provision of private health services is also subject to license. A licence is not needed when services are provided for occupational health in the case of self-employed people or statutorily for occupational health services arranged by employers.

The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) is responsible for coordinating the supervision of social and health care nationwide, while the Regional State Administrative Agencies is for the most part responsible for such supervision regionally. In municipalities, service supervision is carried out by the social and health administration or corresponding body.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) compiles statistics on private social and health services.