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HEALTH

How much will I have to pay to go to the dentist in Sweden?

Dental care in Sweden is under a seperate system to most other healthcare, meaning costs can quickly mount up if you need a lot of treatment. How are costs calculated, and are there any subsidies?

How much will I have to pay to go to the dentist in Sweden?
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix

Free for under-23s

Dental care is completely free for children and young adults under the age of 23. For older adults, prices for check-ups and treatment can vary between clinics, so it is a good idea to look at price lists in advance and compare them, especially if you need a lot of work done.

You usually pay per check-up, but people who are registered with Försäkringskassan get a dental subsidy each year to use towards dental care, and there is also a high cost ceiling to keep your costs low if you need a lot of care.

How much does the dental subsidy cover?

The basic subsidy is known as allmän tandvårdsbidrag (ATB), and the amount you get depends on your age. You get:

  • 600 kronor per year if aged between 24 and 29, or over 65,
  • 300 kronor per year if aged between 30 and 64.

This subsidy renews every year on July 1st, and you can save it for up to a year – so if you still haven’t used the previous years’ subsidy by July 1st, you can use two years’ subsidies at once. If you already have two subsidies when the next years’ is granted on July 1st, you won’t get a new one.

There’s also a särskilt tåndvårdsbidrag (STB) or “special dental subsidy” available to certain individuals who have an illness or disability which makes them more likely to need dental care, such as people on dialysis treatment, people who have had organ transplants or those with certain types of diabetes.

STB consists of 600 kronor every six months, paid out on January 1st and July 1st every year.

High-cost protection

Sweden also provides högkostnadsskydd or “high-cost protection”, to help you cover the costs if you need expensive dental treatment.

High-cost protection doesn’t cover all types of dental treatment, but will usually cover the cheapest possible treatment for your situation. It may, for example, cover the cost of a dental bridge, but not an implant.

You also can’t use it for cosmetic dentistry, such as teeth whitening.

Dentistry as part of a medical treatment isn’t covered either, as that falls under the standard healthcare rules, meaning you will pay your region’s standard patient fee with it’s separate high-cost protection instead.

How much does high-cost protection cover?

You pay the full cost of all dental treatment in the same 12-month period up to a limit of 3,000 kronor. This is based on national reference prices, or your dentist or dental hygienist’s prices if they are lower. If your dentist charges more than the national reference price for the treatment in question, you will have to pay the difference yourself.

If your dental treatment over the course of a 12-month period costs more than 3,000 kronor, Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency), will cover:

  • 50 percent of all costs over 3,000 kronor, and
  • 85 percent of all costs over 15,000 kronor.

For example, let’s say you have a dental bill of 20,000 kronor for treatment within the same 12 month period, and your dentist charges the national reference price.

You pay the first 3,000 kronor yourself. You pay 50 percent of everything between 3,000 and 15,000 kronor (so, 6,000 kronor), then 15 percent of the last 5,000 kronor (so, 750 kronor), as that’s over the 15,000 kronor cap.

This means that, on a 20,000 kronor bill, you end up paying 9,750 kronor (3,000 + 6,000 + 750), meaning Försäkringskassan covered 10,250 kronor of your 20,000 kronor bill.

Frisktandvård

If you visit the public dentist, you can also choose an option called frisktandvård which is a kind of dental insurance. You pay a certain amount of money each month (based on your age and the condition of your teeth, but starting as low as 90 kronor in some regions) and in return, your check-ups and many treatments are available at no extra cost.

This only applies if you have no pre-existing conditions – you’ll need to visit a dentist for them to assess your teeth and decide if you qualify.

Who qualifies?

To be able to use these subsidies, you need to be registered with Försäkringskassan.

Some people, especially those moving to Sweden with children, should be contacted by Försäkringskassan as soon as they are registered with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), but in many cases, it is up to you to actively register with them. That’s important: unlike healthcare, simply having a personnummer is not enough to receive subsidies and high cost protection for dental care, and the process of becoming registered with the agency can take several months, so you should do it as soon as possible after your move.

What if I don’t have a personnummer?

If you’re new or just visiting Sweden, you may be liable to pay higher costs for dental care, including if you are under 23.

If you’re just visiting, or are newly arrived and have not yet become registered as a resident, as a non-EU citizen you should take out medical and dental insurance that covers you while you are in Sweden. Citizens of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland should be able to receive dental care at the same cost as Swedish citizens if it’s an emergency, as long as you’re insured in your home country – make sure you bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and show the dentist. If you don’t have the card, you should save your receipts as it may still be possible to apply for reimbursement in your home country afterwards.

Remember, it isn’t only having a personnummer that entitles you to dental subsidies, but actively registering with Försäkringskassan.

If you are living in Sweden long-term but have a coordination number (samordningsnummer) rather than a personnummer, you may well not be eligible for insurance with Försäkringskassan, so you should arrange your own dental insurance or be prepared to pay the full cost upfront.

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For members

LEARNING SWEDISH

Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Sweden

It's the season when the horrible bugs strike and have us all spluttering into a tissue, so here's the vocab you need to deal with coughs, colds and flu in Sweden.

Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Sweden

It’s not pleasant but as the temperatures fall many people will be falling victim to traditional winter illnesses, from a slight cold to a nasty dose of the flu. So if you are feeling poorly, here’s the Swedish words you need to get help.

En förkylning – a cold. You can also use the adjective if you want to say you feel like you have a cold: jag är förkyld. 

If you have a basic winter cold there are lots of treatments available without prescription in the pharmacy. They include näsdroppar (nose drops) or nässprej (nose spray) if you’ve got a blocked nose, and halstabletter (throat tablets) or halssprej (throat spray) if you’ve got a sore throat. 

Hosta – a cough. If you have one of these you may want some hostmedicin (cough medicine), which you can get from a pharmacy, although Sweden’s 1177 healthcare information website states that it’s just as effective to drink a lot of water. Unlike in English, you don’t use the article when saying you have a cough. Instead, you say jag har hosta (literally: I have cough).

Bear in mind that Swedish pharmacists do extensive medical training so are able to provide consultations and advice on a range of minor illnesses.

If you’re buying cough medicine you will probably be asked if your cough is torr (dry) slemmig (wet or productive cough) allvarlig (severe) or kronisk (long-lasting).

En feber – A fever. If your illness is a little more severe and you are running a temperature this is the word you want. Again, your pharmacist can give you over-the-counter medication for this, and will advise you to consult a doctor if they consider it more severe.

Panodil – this is the most common brand-name for Paracetamol in Sweden and can be bought without prescription from all pharmacies if you need a painkiller or something to help a fever. It’s so ubiquitous that people generally refer to simply ‘Panodil’ rather than paracetamol. 

Influensa – The flu. Flu season affects thousands of people every year in Sweden and if you’re in an at-risk group it’s a good idea to get your flu vaccine (full details of how to access it here).

Vårdcentral – literally, your “health centre”, this is where you go to to speak to a läkare (doctor), the Swedish equivalent to a family doctor or GP, one that covers all types of medicine and doesn’t specialise.

Symtomen – The symptoms. If you visit the doctor they will probably ask your symptoms and these might include svullna halsmandlar (swollen tonsils), hosta (coughing) or jag har svårt att andas (I have difficulty breathing/swallowing). If you want to say that something hurts, you say jag har ont i [insert body part here]”. 

Ett recept– A prescription. The doctor hands these out then you go to the pharmacy to collect the medicine.

One very important question you might be asked is har du något läkemedelsallergi? – Are you allergic to any medications?

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