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HEALTH

READERS REVEAL: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

We asked our readers in Norway to share with us their experiences of the Nordic country's healthcare system.

Pictured is a stethoscope
Here's what foreign residents think of the Norwegian healthcare system. Pictured is a stethoscope. Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

Most healthcare in Norway is covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, with residents paying a small service charge for health care costs. For example, a consultation with a GP costs 160 kroner

Once you’ve paid more than 2,460 kroner in approved user fees, then you will receive an exemption card with all treatment covered by the national insurance scheme after that being free. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Overall, 46.2 percent of respondents to our straw poll said that they had bad experiences with the healthcare system, while 15 percent said they had good encounters. The same proportion, 15 percent, answered in the “neither good nor bad experiences” and “very bad experiences” categories, while seven percent said they had very good experiences. 

Among the positive aspects of the Norwegian healthcare system that readers told us about were competent GPs, excellent quality of treatment, good quality service and giving birth. 

“Doctors take the time to explain the situation and solutions. Avoiding antibiotics as much as possible is a great strategy,” George from Lysaker responded. 

Another reader who had broken their ankle praised the healthcare system and the human way in which they were treated. 

“I had an accident, and I seriously broke my ankle, the Norwegian system did the best it could. The people who treated me were polite and very human, they really cared,” the reader wrote. 

May from Ålesund praised the fact that they could get a same-day appointment with their fastlege (GP). However, this wasn’t the case for everyone (see below). 

In an earlier survey on healthcare in the country, readers also praised doctors’ bedside manner and the excellent facilities. 

While one reader praised the short waiting times for a GP, others said they had experienced the opposite. Waiting times were the biggest issue cited by readers, with one person who didn’t want to be named saying they waited a year for neurological testing. 

Anotehr reader said they had waited a long time to be assigned a doctor. 

“I moved from Oslo to Tromsø, and I am currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no slots for a doctor? Everyone has the right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø wrote.

READ MORE: Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

Sivakumar also complained about the lack of appointments. 

“It’s not possible to get an appointment. There is always a waiting time. They are also not proactive in assessment,” Sivakumar added that while identifying issues wasn’t straightforward the care received once the problem was found was exceptional. 

Others said they experienced difficulties accessing GPs.

“Having to constantly contact and chase to book appointments or change appointments, and often having ‘no diagnosis’ or being left to try things without any follow-up (is a problem),” Simon, from Oslo, responded.

What could be improved upon?

There were several things that readers thought could be made better. For example, many want dentistry included in the national insurance scheme, as well as shorter waiting times and cheaper medicines. 

“Free dental healthcare, more efficient diagnosis and treatment and lower cost of medications” were some of the things one reader told us that needed to be improved. 

Simon from Oslo wanted better aftercare. 

“Aftercare and case resolution, not having issues left unknown or untreated. If a diagnosis can’t be made, send me to a specialist and follow up,” he responded when asked what could be better. 

Sinead from Tromsø was among a number of readers who wanted to see more slots for doctors so they could be appointed a GP. 

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READER INSIGHTS

READERS REVEAL: What is it like to rent in Norway as a foreigner? 

Renting in another country can be a daunting prospect, and many won't know what to expect. Here's what The Local's readers have said about renting in Norway. 

READERS REVEAL: What is it like to rent in Norway as a foreigner? 

Finding a place to call home is a big decision that can have a massive impact on your quality of life.

While research can help give you an understanding of how the rental process works, nothing is more valuable than hearing the experiences of those who have actually been there and done it. 

Luckily, some of The Local’s readers have been kind enough to share their experiences, both good and bad, on what it’s like to rent in Norway. 

Unscrupulous landlords? 

Unfortunately, the country’s landlords can be a mixed bag, according to those who responded to the survey. 

Mritunjay, from Oslo, who has lived in Norway for three years, said that in the last property they rented, the landlord inspected the property three times and waited until after they had moved out before notifying them of any damage. By this point, it was too late to rectify the issue, and the landlord then demanded a significant amount to repair the damage. 

Other readers also had issues with landlords trying to cling onto deposits. 

“The landlord of the previous apartment won’t return the deposit. We stayed there for four years and two months. We endured noise when he renovated his house and turned the basement into another apartment. There was constant drilling noise and whatnot for 4-5 months. Now he’s looking for tiny wear and tear damage and demanding the deposit. It’s still going on, and it’s completely frustrating,” one resident told The Local. 

READ ALSO: How to resolve disputes with your landlord

Some landlords are better than others

Some residents had much more positive encounters with landlords though.

Alyssa, who has lived in both Trondheim and Oslo, cited “responsive and friendly landlords” as a positive of renting as a foreigner. 

Another reader said they were a fan of some landlord’s hands-off approach. 

“My landlord is super easy-going. He gave me the contract, everything was fine. I paid, he gave me the keys, and we haven’t not spoken for two years,” Diego from Adger said. 

There were other positives too 

Overall, more readers said they had a positive experience of renting in Norway than bad. 50 percent of readers who responded to the survey said they had positive experiences of renting a place in Norway. This is compared to just over a quarter who said that they had mixed feelings about signing a lease in Norway, and just over a fifth who said that their experience of being a tenant in Norway was negative. 

Positives that readers pointed out about being a tenant in Norway were agencies being quick to take care of any issues, the process being relatively straightforward, and there being a good amount of furnished options available. One other respondent said that landlords not being able to enter the house without permission or arranging an appointment first was a plus. 

Large deposits, being ‘ghosted’ by landlords and potential tenants ignored due to the colour of their skin 

Renting isn’t without its drawbacks, though. A reader from southern Norway said that they found that landlords wouldn’t respond based on the colour of their skin. 

“As an American woman of colour, doors (were) closed because of my exotic name and lovely skin colour,” the reader responded when asked about the drawbacks of renting in Norway. 

“Old houses, high electricity prices, (its) difficult to secure a rental house, high rent, bad neighbours and terrible landlords,” Martin, from Oslo, listed as his issues with renting in Norway. 

The most common downside mentioned by international residents was sky-high deposits. The typical deposit is equivalent to three months’ rent, which is a significant outlay for many.  

READ MORE: How much can the landlord ask for as a deposit?

Another issue some tenants said they had was being ghosted by landlords, meaning they never heard back if the apartment had already been let out. 

Is it harder for foreigners to rent in Norway? 

This was the final question we asked readers in our survey, and respondents were split on whether it was easy or not for a foreigner to let a place in the Scandinavian country. 

Slightly more readers said that it was easy to find a place as an international residential than said it was hard. 

Some found it easier because their employers helped with the process or they had agencies to help with the contracts and papers. Others said the process was straightforward if you had an identification number and a Norwegian bank account. 

READ MORE: What are the best banks for foreigners in Norway?

A reader from the US living in Østerås said that they found the process easy due to their nationality and that Norwegians seemed more willing to rent to Americans than other foreigners. 

Those who found the process harder said it was due to a language barrier and some landlords viewing foreign tenants sceptically. One respondent said enquiries sent in English were often ignored.

Another said they didn’t hear back about apartments unless their Norwegian partner handled the process. 

“When I enquire about an apartment, I get no response, and when my Norwegian husband does, he gets responses almost immediately,” one participant said. 

If you have a story on renting in Norway that you feel other international residents could benefit from, you can contact us

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