Social welfare and health care system in Finland, responsibilities

Municipal social welfare and health care services, implemented with government support, form the basis of the social welfare and health care system. Private companies also provide services alongside the public sector. In addition, Finland has a wide range of social welfare and health care organisations, providing services both free of charge and for a fee.


Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

  • Prepares legislation and guides its implementation
  • Directs and guides the development of social welfare and health care services, and social welfare and health care policy
  • Defines social welfare and health care policy guidelines, prepares key reforms and guides their implementation and coordination
  • Is responsible for links with political decision-making

Research and development

Agencies and institutes under the Ministry's administrative branch in charge of research and development within the administrative branch:

  • the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
  • the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea
  • STUK - Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority
  • the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

Licences and monitoring

Regional State Administrative Agencies guide and monitor municipal and private social welfare and health care services and evaluate the availability and quality of basic services provided by municipalities. They grant licences to private service providers in the region.

National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health Valvira guides, monitors and manages the administration of licences for the social welfare and healthcare sector, alcohol administration and environmental health and protection.


Municipalities, private service providers and organisations: Municipalities are responsible for organising social welfare and health care. They can provide basic social welfare and health care services alone, or form joint municipal authorities with other municipalities. Municipalities may also purchase social welfare and health care services from other municipalities, organisations or private service providers.

Hospital districts organise specialised medical care. The provision of the most demanding medical operations is centralised on the national level to the university hospitals.