Sweaty Swedes seek help overseas
TT/The Local/pvs · 10 Jun 2012, 10:19
Published: 10 Jun 2012 10:19 GMT+02:00
According to European Economic Area (EEA) regulations, citizens are allowed to seek care in any of the participating countries (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) if refused in their home country.
Many patients are forced to do so each year as local Swedish health authorities decline to treat them for excessive sweating, a sickness known as hyperhidrosis and which affects around three percent of the Swedish population.
Hyperhidrosis is often a localized condition with the hands, feet, armpits and groin typically affected areas, although the ailment may hit any part of the body.
If the symptoms do not respond to non-prescription medicines then treatment is by injecting botox into the sweat glands.
Botox treatment is not offered by all health authorities and in Stockholm for example the treatment is offered only for sweaty hands, as this is deemed to be the affliction which carries the greatest hardship for the patient in question.
If sweating therefore becomes extensive and thus more expensive to treat, many local health authorities, such as Stockholm, pull the plug on funding.
As perspiring patients are then obliged to seek solace overseas, clinics are forced to throw away substantial quantities of medicine.
The sweat clinic at Sophiahemmet hospital in Stockholm is for example reported to have thrown away some 350,000 kronor ($49,000) in medicines during the month of May alone.
Popular destinations outside of Sweden to seek help for what for many can be considered a debilitating and embarrassing condition, include Oslo and Copenhagen, according to the Svenska Dagbladet report.
When seeking care in another EEA country, patients are liable to pay only the local fee for treatment, which in the case of Norway equates to around 350 kronor.
Under Swedish regulations the bill for this care is then sent to the Social Insurance Agency (Forsäkringskassan) and not to local health authorities.