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    Posted February 2, 2011 by
    Greater Los Angeles, California

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    Iceland Health Care System


    This iReport will tell you about the healthcare system in Iceland.

    Photo #2: Countries in blue have some kind of universal health care program. I suggest we study the best of the best and incorporate into our new health care program, here in the United States.

    This information was taken from the inter net:


    Iceland: Healthcare System

    Iceland is an island nation, located in the North  Atlantic with a population of 305,000 people, with roughly two-thirds of  the population residing within, or in the surrounding area, of the  capital Reykjavik. The country is well-known for its unique landscape,  ranging from volcanic sand fields to mountains and glaciers.  Iceland has one of the highest standards of living in the world and is  well-known for its low pollution levels and pro-active approach to  lifestyle quality issues. In recent years Iceland has become one the  wealthiest and most developed countries in the world.

    The Icelandic healthcare system is well organized and leads the way with  more doctors per head of population than any other country in the  world. The healthcare system in Iceland is of a very high standard and  generally provides patients with high quality health services – although  in rural areas healthcare services are more limited. The Icelandic  government provides citizens of the country with universal healthcare  coverage, although there are certain fees for some health services. The  Minister of Health and Social Security has ultimate responsibility for  the administration of Icelandic health services.

    The Health Services Act in Iceland came into effect in 1974; it entitles  citizens of Iceland with the right to access the best Icelandic health  services at any given time for the protection of their mental, physical  and social health. The Icelandic healthcare system is described as  universal, comprehensive and is mostly financed by general taxation; the  taxes generated being used to fund the health sector. Over the years  since 1974, the health services act has been amended as the Icelandic  healthcare system has been reformed and evolved to meet changing  circumstances.

    Approximately 80% of the funding for the Icelandic healthcare system  comes from the state budget or indirectly through the State Social  Security Institute (SSSI). The Icelandic Government generates the  majority of its income from personal and corporate taxes, together with  value added tax (VAT) on products and services. There is also between  15-20% of healthcare funding derived from direct household payments  (out-of-pocket-payments); this primarily covers partial payments for  specialist consultations, outpatient operations and dental care, with  contributory payments for pharmaceuticals.

    The Icelandic healthcare system predominately consists of public run  healthcare facilities provided by the state. Icelandic private  healthcare providers are closely monitored by the Ministry of Health in  Iceland, with the majority of Icelandic private healthcare providers  operating within healthcare centers in the larger populated areas of the  country. Specialist private healthcare operators provide their health  services for a fee-for-services to patients who do not seek medical  treatment from the publicly run healthcare system.

    The Ministry of Health in Iceland was established in 1970, with the  responsibility of governing the Icelandic health sector. The principal  duty of Iceland’s Ministry of Health is to act as administrator, to  direct policy and to generally oversee health insurance issues in  Iceland.

    The State Social Security Agency (Tryggingastofnun) in Iceland is  charged with the administration of pension insurance, occupational  injury insurance, maternity insurance and health insurance; it is one  the largest government services in the country, operating under the  Social Security Act. The Social Security Act is designed to provide  Icelandic citizens with social assistance and to ensure Iceland  residents obtain a basic standard of living.

    Taxation of an employee’s salary is the main contributor towards the  Icelandic health sector. A foreign national registered to work in  Iceland, with legal residential status, will need to pay Icelandic taxes  from their salaries, entitling them to the same access to healthcare as  Icelandic citizens. Normally a foreign national residing and working in  Iceland for more 6 months is entitled to join the SSSI and have access  to public run healthcare facilities in the country. However, the local  Icelandic authorities can look at a foreign national’s specific case and  evaluate their circumstances to see if they will be provided with  Icelandic health services. In either case, it is advisable for  expatriates to obtain Icelandic international health insurance to ensure  they have comprehensive healthcare cover.

    Icelandic health insurance provided through the SSSI, entitles Icelandic  citizens to hospital treatment, emergency medical care, ambulance  services, surgical treatment, dental treatment, maternity care and  covers the cost of medical equipment. Contributors to the SSSI will also  have access to healthcare outside Iceland's healthcare system, if the  authorities agree to the medical treatment, and if the medical procedure  cannot be performed with the services available in Iceland.

    A citizen of Iceland who is not in employment and not paying tax, with  also be permitted access to Icelandic healthcare services. Mothers and  pregnant women will receive all preventive healthcare services free in  Iceland. Medication and prescription drugs may be provided to patients  through the public healthcare system depending on circumstances and a  citizen’s standing in society. Medication for acute illnesses, such as  diabetes and cancer, and drugs for life-threatening illness will be  reimbursed to the patient.

    The government of Iceland will set the fees required for patients who  access Icelandic healthcare services. However, there are no fees for  in-patient treatments. For dental care in Iceland, anyone under the age  of eighteen will be subsidized by the state, unless it is advanced  dental care. Pensioners and the disabled, suffering from acute dental  problems, will also receive free dental care from the state.

    The Icelandic healthcare system has been largely decentralized over the  years, with autonomy being granted to local authorities – even though  the main Icelandic government provides the majority of the funding for  the health sector. The main reason for decentralization being the vast  area the country is spread across; although in recent times, there has  been more focus on central government control of the Icelandic health  sector partly due to cost management issues.

    Primary Icelandic healthcare services are delivered by health centres  (heilsugaeslustod). The Icelandic healthcare centres are situated at a  local level to give patients access to health services from a general  practitioner (GP), nurses and midwives. In some cases, the healthcare  centers in Iceland will be run in connection with local hospitals.  Medical specialist in the fields of optometry, gynaecology, paediatrics  and otolaryngology will make regular visits to healthcare centres to  treat patients. GP's will need to refer any patient who requires further  medical treatment to a hospital.

    Hospitals in Iceland are split into three categories; specialized  teaching hospitals, general hospitals and community hospitals. Icelandic  specialized hospitals are home to medical professionals educated and  trained to conduct a range of surgical procedures and to provide  healthcare services for diseases requiring advanced medical treatment.

    The capital Reykjavik, and the surrounding area, together with Akureyri  in the north of the country, are home to the most comprehensive  healthcare services in Iceland, with the country's top medical  professionals being based in these areas. Landspítali University  Hospital in Reykjavik is the largest hospital and main healthcare  service provider with roughly 1000 beds available and performs  approximately 1400 surgical procedures a year. This facility offers  citizens of Iceland comprehensive medical care and treatment. The role  of Landspítali University Hospital consists of patient care, teaching  and training of clinical staff, and scientific research. The hospital is  equipped to deliver clinical services in out-patient clinics,  in-patient procedures, day patient and laboratory services.

    The Icelandic National Health Plan – up to the year 2010 – is the latest  healthcare plan being applied. This is primarily focused on sectors  covering senior citizens, children, mental health and heart, brain and  cancer disease prevention. The aim is to develop health matters in these  specific areas and to further evaluate medium term needs. As society  needs change overtime, the Icelandic healthcare system is adapting to  ensure it keeps up with the demands of Icelandic citizens’ health  requirements.

    While Iceland is not a member of the European Union, it has affiliated  arrangements with EU member states for reciprocal healthcare – under the  EHIC (European Health Union Insurance Card) process. This allows  citizens from participating countries access to the same medical care as  an Icelandic citizen – should they need medical treatment while  traveling through the country. However, holders of the EHIC are still  urged to take out Icelandic international health insurance to provide  full medical coverage as the EHIC does not cover medical costs for  on-going medical treatment, air ambulance services or repatriation in  the event of a serious injury or medical condition.

    If you are planning any tours of natural attractions in Iceland, which  include – volcanic craters, glaciers, lava fields, hot springs, ice  caves, boiling mudpots, geyser, glacial rivers and waterfalls – you  should be aware that these activities can pose a risk to an individual  if an accident were to occur. If a person was injured, or taken ill,  while in a remote region of Iceland, there is limited healthcare  facilities and medical transportation available; although air ambulance  services are present in the country and will be called upon if required.  However, the patient is liable for the cost of using such a services  and it is strongly advised to ensure you have air lift coverage included  in your healthcare insurance for Iceland.

    As a foreign national in Iceland, you are required to pay for all  healthcare services used. If you are a holder of a European Union  Insurance Card you will receive emergency healthcare service free, but  you will be required to make any further payments for services and the  cost or repatriation if the circumstances deem it necessary. It is  advisable that all visitors to Iceland take out comprehensive Icelandic  international health insurance to give them coverage of healthcare  services while in the country; it is recommended that you are covered  for the possible need for air ambulance services and repatriation, as  the use of these services would be very costly.

    The Icelandic healthcare system is extremely well developed, with the  only noticeable flaw being limited access to healthcare services in the  less urbanized areas of the country. The Icelandic healthcare system  provides citizens of Iceland with a good, high quality of health  service, and will ensure provision of medical care for all patients when  required. In the case of a complex treatment which cannot be performed  within the Icelandic health sector, the SSSI and Icelandic Ministry of  Health will facilitate the sending of the patient to a country which can  conduct the procedure required. Because the public Icelandic healthcare  system is of such high quality, and it is written in law that all  citizens of Iceland are entitled to the best health service available at  all times, privately run healthcare provision only forms a small  proportion of the Icelandic health sector; this predominately consists  of specialist outpatient care. The private medical system can also treat  patients who are insured via the government SSSI scheme.

    If you are looking for peace-of-mind knowing that medical costs will be  covered in case of an accident or illness, to yourself and your family,  while traveling to or residing in Iceland, an international  medical insurance plan will be the ideal solution. Policies can be tailor-made to ensure  all your needs are met while in Iceland. Should you require further  information on Iceland, global medical insurance, or to receive a free quotation, please do not hesitate to call one of our expert advisers now.

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