It may be helpful to know a little about your rights and options as a patient if you or a family member becomes ill.
Everyone living in Norway is entitled to receive essential medical and care services (helsenorge.no). This includes asylum-seekers, refugees and other immigrants who are lawfully resident in the country. The Health Centre for Undocumented Immigrants (kirkensbymisjon.no) run by the Church City Mission is aimed at anyone who is not legally residing in Norway.
- General Practitioner/family doctor
All inhabitants who are registered in the National Registry as living in Norway have the right to a General Practitioner/family doctor (helsenorge.no). By using Bytte fastlege (helsenorge.no) you can find and change your General Practitioner (helsenorge.no) yourself. If you become ill, you normally start by consulting your General Practitioner.
- Patient pathway
If cancer is suspected, you will enter a patient pathway (pakkeforløp) appropriate for your diagnosis. It starts when a hospital receives a referral regarding suspected cancer. This is not a right but describes the number of days each individual stage of patient care should take. The purpose of the patient pathway is for cancer patients and their families to experience a comprehensive and predictable progression without any unnecessary delay that is not justified on medical grounds. The maximum waiting time for health care is not the same as for a patient pathway. If you believe that your guaranteed maximum waiting time has been exceeded, you can contact Helsenorge.
- Pathway coordinator
All hospitals that investigate and treat cancer have a coordinator who will ensure the coherence and unity of the patient pathway. They can answer practical questions about the patient pathway. You can get information about your patient pathway and pathway coordinator from your GP or hospital doctor.
- Your rights in case of exceeded waiting time
If the maximum waiting time for healthcare you were guaranteed is exceeded, you have the right to treatment elsewhere (helsenorge.no).
- Choose a treatment centre
«Fritt behandlingsvalg» replaces and expands «Fritt Sykehusvalg», and gives you right to choose where you want to be treated (helsenorge.no).
- Your right to an interpreter
Patients not fluent in Norwegian are entitled to an interpreter (helsenorge.no).
- My Prescriptions
My Prescriptions (helsenorge.no) allows you who have received one or more electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions) an overview of the medicine/items assigned to you.
Kjernejournal (helsenorge.no) gathers selected and important information about your health. This is particularly useful if you need urgent medical assistance.
- The rights of next of kin
Although medical personnel have a duty of confidentiality, there are many cases where next of kin also have a right to information (helsenorge.no).
- Dental treatment
Children receive free public dental treatment. In principle, adults have to pay themselves, however there are a number of exceptions (helsenorge.no).
- Patient travel
Patient travel (helsenorge.no) covers travel to and from publicly approved medical treatment.
Benefits and rights regarding sickness
- National Insurance Scheme (nav.no)
Membership in the National Insurance Scheme is the key to eligibility for rights to services from NAV. In Norway, your membership can be based on residence or employment.
- The introduction programme (imdi.no)
You can be absent from the introduction programme on the basis of a self-certificate or a doctor’s certificate if illness or injury prevents you from participating.
- Sickness benefits (nav.no)
Sickness benefits compensate for loss of income for those who are occupationally disabled due to an illness or injury.
- Work assessment allowance (nav.no)
A work assessment allowance allows you to have an income in periods during which you are ill or injured and need assistance from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) to return to work.
- Disability benefit (nav.no)
Disability benefit may be appropriate for those who have a permanently reduced earning capacity due to illness or injury.
- Basic benefit (nav.no)
Basic benefits cover necessary additional expenses incurred due to permanent injuries, illness, disabilities or congenital malformations.
- Assistance allowance (nav.no) If you need long-term private care and supervision due to illness, injury or congenital disability, you may be entitled to this.
- Higher rate assistance allowance (nav.no)
Children under the age of 18, whose needs for care and supervision significantly exceeds those covered by the standard attendance benefit, may qualify for higher rate attendance benefits.
- Financial assistance (nav.no)
Financial assistance from NAV is intended to secure a person’s income on a temporary basis to cover his or her basic subsistence costs.
- Attendance allowance in connection with a child’s illness
The attendance allowance («Pleiepenger) is intended to compensate for loss of income when you are caring for a child who needs constant care and supervision due to illness or injury. Information in Norwegian about “Pleiepenger i utlandet” (nav.no)
- Attendance allowance in connection with caring for a person in the final stages of his or her life
You may be entitled to attendance allowance as compensation for loss of income when caring for a person in the final stages of his or her life with whom you have close ties. Information in Norwegian about “Pleiepenger i livets sluttfase” (nav.no)
Help from the municipality
Municipal authorities are responsible for providing most health and care services in Norway. The municipality also has several schemes that it may be useful to be aware of if you become ill.
If some of the benefits might be appropriate to you, please contact your local municipality for more information. You can also find information and an application form on your municipality’s website. The organisation of services may differ slightly from one municipality to another.
- Home nursing service
The Home nursing service can provide help and guidance for people who are ill, who have care and supervision needs and who live at home. This could be help with medication and dressing wounds, daily care, help to stand up and lie down, as well as guidance and training in managing tasks themselves (for example, medication and changing a stoma bag). Home Health care is free.
- Practical assistance
Practical assistance in the home will provide assistance to people who are ill and who depend on practical help in their day-to-day lives. This could be help with cleaning, laundry, cooking and shopping. Your household income will determine how much you need to pay for this help.
- Carer salary
A carer salary can be granted to individuals who have a particularly burdensome and essential nursing and care duty at home. The aim is to allow families to continue caring for their loved ones. If you have not applied for assistance allowance from NAV (nav.no), you are required to apply for this at the same time.
- Personal assistance
User-controlled personal assistance is primarily intended for individuals who have extensive assistance needs. Personal assistance includes help with daily living, practical tasks associated with the household, help in self-care and personal grooming. The municipality also has several other services and facilities such as a Healthy Living Centre, relief, various types of assistive aids that can be borrowed from the, Technical Aid Centre, adapted transport system (TT card), loans and grants for the modification of housing, etc.
- Healthy Life Centres
A Healthy Life Centre (HLC) (helsedirektoratet.no) is an interdisciplinary primary health care service which offers effective, knowledge-based measures for people with, or in high risk of disease, who need support in health behaviour change and in coping health problems and chronic disease. The HLC is part of the public health care service in the municipality
Employees and rights
- Self-certification (egenmelding)
As an employee, you are entitled to self-declared sick leave (nav.no) without having to submit a medical certificate if you are unable to work due to illness.
- Care benefit days
If you are employed, you are usually entitled to care benefit when you need to be absent from work if your child, or the person who usually looks after your child, is ill. Some employers also allow paid sick leave to be used to attend doctor’s appointments, receive medical treatment or care for family members who are ill. You can find out what applies to your own workplace by checking your workplace’s employee manual.
- Follow-up employees on sick leave
The employer has primary responsibility for making the necessary adaptations and for following up employees on sick leave who return to the workplace.
- Grant for funeral and coffin transportation arrangements
Funeral grant (nav.no) may be granted to cover actual, necessary expenses incurred for funeral arrangements. When a member of the National Insurance Scheme dies in Norway, and the coffin containing the remains has to be transported 20 kilometres or more in order to reach the cemetery closest to the former residence of the deceased, the cost may be covered (nav.no).
- Survivor’s pension
Survivor’s pension and transitional benefits (nav.no) to survivors are benefits contributing to a subsistence income for a spouse/cohabitant after the death of the other person. You could also be eligible for other supplemental benefits as a surviving spouse, for example, extended child benefit (nav.no).
- Children’s pension
Children’s pension (nav.no) is granted to children who have lost one or both parents. The pension is intended to ensure the child has an income on which to live.
- Occupational pension scheme
All employees, both public and private sector, are covered by an occupational pension scheme. The employee and his or hers family may have rights to this pension scheme, such as disability and survivors’ pensions, in connection with a disease or death.
Your right to complain
You are entitled to complain if you believe that you are being deprived of your rights as a patient or that you have not received the health or care services you are entitled to.
If you need legal assistance or have questions about your rights as a patient, employee and dependents, several free services are available
- NPE handles compensation claims from patients who have suffered an injury as a consequence of treatment provided by the health service.
- Health & Social Services ombudsman in each county can help patients and clients who do not get the help or treatment they are in need of. Your Health & Social Services ombudsman can, for example, answer and clarify general questions regarding health and social services and provide advice and guidance regarding your patient rights.
- The Norwegian Cancer Society’s Counseling Service offers a rights service in which special nurses and social workers can answer questions about your rights and options. You can also get legal advice from The Norwegian Cancer Society Legal aid.
- SEIF is a voluntary and independent organisation that helps new citizens find their way in Norwegian society and obtain sufficient information to help them resolve their own problems.
- NOAS (The Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers) is an independent membership organisation working to protect the rights of asylum seekers in Norway. NOAS’ main activities are to give information and legal aid to asylum seekers.
- The Equality and anti-Discrimination Ombudsman helps people who experience discrimination.
- Jussbuss is a free legal aid clinic run by students.
- JURK (Legal aid for women) is a student run legal aid office. The office provides free legal aid and legal advice for all women.
- The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority can be contacted if you have any questions regarding your working conditions and rights.