Client charges in healthcare and social welfare
The Government guides and directs the policy on client charges in healthcare and social welfare through legislation.
The purpose of the policy is to ensure that the charges are kept at a reasonable level and they are not an obstacle to seeking health and social services.
The maximum charges for public healthcare and social welfare services are laid down in the Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare and the corresponding Government Decree.
Depending on the service:
- health and social services are free of charge, or
- there is a client charge which is either fixed or depends on the client’s income and family relations.
Wellbeing services counties may opt to use lower rates or to provide services free of charge. They may not collect charges that exceed the production cost of the services.
The charges for public services, mainly health services, have an upper limit per calendar year beyond which clients do not have to pay charges. In 2022–2023, this upper limit is EUR 692. Invoices must indicate whether the client charges count towards this annual payment ceiling.
If clients fail to pay the charges for health and social services, they may have to pay interest and the charges may be collected through enforcement without a court decision.
There is also an annual maximum limit on out-of-pocket medicine costs per calender year.
Clients may request administrative review of service charges
A client dissatisfied with the amount of the charge may request an administrative review of the charge from the wellbeing services county that is responsible for organising the service. Clients must be provided with the instructions for filing a request for an administrative review, and these instructions must be appended to the invoice or decision. A request for an administrative review may be lodged in respect of any client charge.
Clients may apply for reduction in client charges
Clients may apply for a reduction in or exemption from client charges if they have trouble paying the charges due to their financial situation.
Wellbeing services counties must reduce or waive a charge for social services or a charge for health services that is based on the client’s ability to pay if collecting the charge would endanger the means of support of the client or the client’s family or the fulfilment of the client’s statutory maintenance liability.
Clients may also receive social assistance for paying for health and social services. However, reducing or waiving charges must take priority over granting social assistance.
Client charges reviewed every two years
Client charges are reviewed every two years.
The following indexes are used in reviewing client charges:
|Income thresholds used for setting the fees for continuous and regular services provided at home and long-term housing services, and
a minimum amount of disposable funds left each client in long-term services
|Earnings-related pension index|
Charges for health and social services
Annual payment ceiling
|National Pension Index|
Do you have questions about client charges?
If you want to ask in more detail about your client charges or, for example, about matters relating to the annual payment ceiling, you should first contact the wellbeing services county that is responsible for organising the service and imposing the client charges (place where you received service). Wellbeing services counties have a duty to respond to clients’ inquiries and, if necessary, provide guidance and advice on client charges.
If you feel that you have been mistreated or need advice on your rights, you may contact the patient ombudsperson or social services ombudsperson.