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Access to healthcare in Denmark

Updated 25 February 2016

The right to purchase goods and services freely among the EU states is one of the fundamental principles of the EU co-operation.

As a citizen of an EU/EEA state, in many cases you will be eligible for reimbursement from your public health insurance for healthcare provided in another EU/EEA state than your state of residence.

The rules governing the right to apply for/purchase public and private healthcare in Denmark do not affect your right to receive necessary public healthcare in Denmark if you fall ill or are injured during your stay in Denmark. Please refer to the information about the European Health Insurance Card: Staying in Denmark

Do I have access to healthcare in Denmark?

If you are covered by a public health insurance scheme in another EU/EEA state, you have access to public healthcare in Denmark.

You may be asked to provide documentation for your public health insurance cover. Documentation may e.g. be provided by presenting your European Health Insurance Card.

Hospital treatment in Denmark

Public hospitals in Denmark will offer you treatment against payment. However, you need to be referred by a doctor/GP before the hospital can decide if they can offer you examination/treatment at the hospital. Referral may also be issued by other licensed health professionals and authorities. You will find further information on the websites of the various regional authorities.

The public hospitals in Denmark are operated by the five regional councils. You can find the public hospitals in Denmark on the websites of the various regional authorities:

Region Nordjylland (North Denmark Region)

Region Midtjylland (Central Denmark Region)

Region Syddanmark (Region of Southern Denmark)

Region Hovedstaden (Capital Region of Denmark)

Region Sjælland (Region Zealand)

The regional authorities are required to state the date and place of your examination or treatment no later than eight weekdays after their receipt of your referral for examination/treatment in a hospital.

If, owing to lack of capacity, a hospital refuses to accept you e.g. because they have a long waiting list and your treatment would result in the postponement of other patients, the regional authorities must inform you of this within the same time limit.

The regional authorities will request the same payment for your examination/treatment as they would for the examination/treatment of a patient covered by Danish health insurance. However, if you need an interpreter in connection with your examination, the regional authorities may request that you pay the costs for the interpreter.

The regional authorities are required to inform you of the payment of your examination and treatment before you arrive at the hospital for examination. The payment will be calculated and requested in connection with or immediately after you have been examined and treated at the hospital.

The regional authorities may request that you pay a deposit or provide a guarantee of payment in time.

Information about waiting times for treatment in public hospitals in Denmark can be found here (in Danish)

On the region's website you can see if access to certain types of treatment at the hospital in the region is closed owing to lack of capacity.

Treatment in private hospitals or clinics in Denmark

Treatment in private hospitals is offered various places in Denmark. You can find information on the types of treatment offered in the various hospitals on the Internet.

Further, examination and treatment is offered by a number of licensed Danish health professionals, e.g. with GPs or specialists, dentists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc.

In Denmark, these health professionals are mainly occupied in the private sector. This mean that you will have to contact the individual health professional yourself and inquire if he/she is able to accept you for examination and treatment and inquire about the terms (e.g. payment).

The private hospital or the private health professional is required to offer you examination and treatment at the same price and terms which apply for a Danish patient in a similar health situation.

Other public healthcare services offered in Denmark

The Danish regions and municipalities provide a number of public healthcare services against payment. Examples are:

  • General dental care for children and young adults up to the age of 18 or specialised (regional) dental care for children and young adults with special dental issues (dental disease),
  • Nursing care at home (subject to referral by a doctor/GP),
  • Municipal physiotherapy (subject to referral by a doctor/GP),
  • Rehabilitation following discharge from a hospital, if a doctor has determined that rehabilitation is required,municipal alcohol treatment carried out by licensed health professionals, medical treatment of substance abuse.

There may be limited access to regional or municipal healthcare services owing to lack of capacity, e.g. if the waiting list for a particular type of treatment is long and other patients would be postponed as a result of your admission.

On the region's or the municipality's website you can see if access to the health services you require is closed owing to lack of capacity.

You need to contact the regional or municipal authorities to obtain further information about the services and the possibility of obtaining examination and treatment for you or your child.

What is the price of my treatment?

The regional or municipal authorities charge the same amount for the treatment of you or your child as they would for the treatment of a person covered by Danish health insurance.

However, the regional or municipal authorities may request payment of costs for an interpreter if the assistance of an interpreter is needed in connection with the treatment of you or your child. You will be informed of the price of your treatment, alternatively the criteria for the calculation of the price, before your treatment is commenced.

Payment will be calculated and charged in connection with or immediately after you have received the treatment. You may be asked to pay a deposit or provide guarantee of payment in time.

Do I need a referral?

Yes. If you want treatment in a public hospital or you require another public healthcare service in Denmark for which referral from a doctor/GP or a dentist is required, you need a referral from a doctor/GP or dentist in your country of residence or another EU/EEA state.

In certain circumstances, referral for hospital treatment may be issued by other licensed health professionals and authorities. You can find further information on the websites of the individual regions.

In some cases, specific requirements apply for referrals. For example, it may be required to be issued by a specialist in a given area. Ask the regional authorities if the treatment you are seeking requires a special referral.

How do I know if a health professional is registered (licensed) in Denmark?

The public register of Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed (Danish Patient Safety Authority) includes information about all health professionals registered in Denmark. You can access the register and check if the health professional in question is registered and whether he or she is under intensified supervision.

Purchase of medicines in Denmark

Prescription medicines and certain types of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can only be purchased from a pharmacy.
Other types of OTC medicines, natural medicine and vitamin and mineral products can be purchased from various other vendors such as super markets, chemists and kiosks.

Find more information about the purchase of medicines in Denmark here

Where do I complain about the treatment?

If you have experienced errors or mistreatment in a public hospital, a private hospital, from a doctor or from another therapist of the Danish healthcare system, you can submit a complaint to Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed (Danish Patient Safety Authority). You may also complain about lack of information, lack of consent from you as patient and breach of confidentiality.

Find more information about your rights to complain here (in Danish)

Where do I apply for compensation for mistreatment?

If you believe that you have been inflicted an injury as a result of treatment received at a public hospital, from a doctor/GP or from other health professionals in the private sector, you must report your injury to Patienterstatningen (The Patient Insurance Association).

Patienterstatningen will decide if you are eligible for compensation.

Patienterstatningen (The Patient Insurance Association) also handles compensation cases following rare and serious adverse effects of medicines.

If you do not agree with a decision made by Patienterstatningen (The Patient Insurance Association), you can file a complaint of the decision to Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed (Danish Patient Safety Authority). Ankenævnet for Patienterstatningen (The Patient Injury Appeals Board) will then decide on the issue. Link in Danish.

Find more information about compensation here (in Danish)

Where do I get patient information?

You can obtain various types of information on your access to public healthcare in Denmark, your rights as a patient in Denmark and the general quality standards of patient treatment in Denmark by contacting a patient adviser in the Danish region in which you seek treatment.

The patient adviser can assist you in e.g. the following:

  • investigating if a specific health professional is registered (licensed) in Denmark
  • finding information on disabled access to a hospital and
  • assisting you and your health insurance provider in interpreting the Danish invoice you have received.