Private providers of health and social services
Private providers of health and social services, in other words companies, organisations and foundations, already account for about 22 per cent of the whole health and social services sector. They operate in both publicly and privately funded markets.
Private health and social services supplement public services. Private service providers may sell their services to wellbeing services counties, municipalities or directly to clients.
The services provided in the wellbeing services counties may include all the services the procurement of which is not specifically prohibited by law (e.g. emergency social services, 24-hour services).
The content, scope and quantity of the services to be purchased must be such that wellbeing services counties can, in all situations, fulfil their responsibility for organising services in an appropriate manner. Wellbeing services counties can use temporary agency workers or employees leased from private service providers under the conditions similar to those concerning purchased services.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is drafting legislation on these services and is responsible for the general guidance of private service provision.
Legislation on private health and social services:
- Act on Private Social Services 922/2011 (in Finnish and Swedish)
- Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Private Social Services 1053/2011 (in Finnish and Swedish)
- Private Healthcare Act 152/1990 (in Finnish and Swedish)
- Private Healthcare Decree 744/1990 (in Finnish and Swedish)
Growing need for health and social services
The need for health and social services will continue to grow as the population ages. To meet this need, we need private services alongside public services. Companies are also important for the vitality of regions.
The most common private social services include:
- service housing for older people
- home services for older people and people with disabilities
- institutional care and family care for children and young people
- child daycare.
The most common private health services include:
- physiotherapy services
- services by physicians and dentists
- occupational healthcare.
Most of the private providers of health services operate in southern Finland and the biggest cities.
Charges and reimbursement
Wellbeing services counties may procure private health and social services for clients within the limits imposed by legislation. In this case the client pays for the service in accordance with the Act on Client Charges in Health and Social Services.
It is also possible to use service vouchers to pay for the private services procured by wellbeing services counties. The counties decide themselves whether to introduce the voucher and for what services it can be used.
Part of the fees charged by private physicians and dentists are reimbursed to clients through their health insurance. Applications for reimbursement are submitted to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).
Activities subject to a licence
The provision of 24-hour social welfare services is subject to a licence. As regards other than 24-hour private social services, a notification must be submitted to the wellbeing services county where the services are provided.
Providing private healthcare services is subject to a licence. However, no licence is required when services are provided as self-employed persons or when employers organise statutory occupational healthcare services themselves.
The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) is responsible for national coordination when it comes to the supervision of healthcare and social welfare. The Regional State Administrative Agencies have the main responsibility for supervising these services in their areas. In the wellbeing services counties, the health and social services or other similar body are responsible for supervising private services. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) collects data on private health and social services.