For current international students

The Danish Health Care System

The quality of Denmark’s health system is extremely high; on the same level as the medical care you find in many other Western European countries.

Hospitals in Denmark have excellent facilities, and most doctors and dentists speak English. The Danish health service is financed through income tax, so state medical treatment in Denmark is available to all Danish residents and EU citizens free of charge. Free emergency treatment is available to visitors from all other countries.

The Danish health system is divided into two sectors:

Primary health care: Primary health care deals with general health problems and is usually the first point of contact if you require general medical treatment. Services in this sector are available to everyone, and include treatments from general practitioners, dentists, physiotherapists, etc.

Hospital sector: Hospitals are responsible for patients who require more specialised medical treatment, for example intensive care or the need for specialist equipment.

You can learn much more at Just Landed – Health in Denmark.

Overview of Danish Health Care

The ‘cornerstones’ of the Danish healthcare system:

  • it is a public healthcare system predominantly financed through general taxes
  • healthcare is organised in such a way that responsibility for services provided lies within the lowest possible administrative level, usually the county councils (subsidiarity)
  • there should be universal, free and equal access for all 5.4 Million citizens
  • it should promote efficiency, be of high quality, and enable free choice of provider by users

Since 1970, most decisions regarding the form and content of health care activity have been made at county and municipal level.

The Ministry of Health has a coordinating and supervisory role, but no operational responsibilities for health services. Working in close cooperation with the government and municipalities, the five regions are responsible for hospitals and primary care. Regions have wide powers to organise the health services for their citizens, according to regional wishes and possibilities and can adjust services and staff, etc., according to needs at the different levels. County council elections held every four years usually focus on local issues.

There are important channels for co-ordination and negotiation between the state and the regions and municipalities and between the regions and the municipalities. In recent years, the political focus on controlling health care costs has encouraged a greater degree of formal co-operation.

Here you can download a booklet in English about the Danish healthcare system published by The National Board of Health in Denmark in 2005.

About this page

This page is updated by Christina Højsgaard Madsen September 27, 2012.