What does ordinary subsidisation cover during residence abroad?

As a voluntary member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme with the right to what is known as «ordinary subsidisation», you are eligible for reimbursement of a percentage of your expenses on different types of healthcare during your residence abroad.

Smiling grandmoter and granddaughter holding each other

Illustration: Morten Rakke / Helfo

You can apply for voluntary membership of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme if you will be residing abroad long enough to lose your standard cover from Norway. If you are a regular pensioner or a disability pensioner and reside in another EU/EEA country, you will not be granted voluntary membership. For more information, visit the NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) website.

The entitlement to reimbursement of your expenses on healthcare under the rules on ordinary subsidisation applies primarily to pensioners residing in a country outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland. Find application form on the website «Pensioners outside the EU/EEA».    

The subsidisation is mainly granted to cover expenses on healthcare outside the EU/EEA area. Please note however that certain EU/EEA countries apply special rules regarding healthcare subsidisation (in Norwegian).

What type of healthcare expenses are eligible for ordinary subsidisation?

​Ambulance transport

You are entitled to 100% reimbursement of your actual expenses on necessary ambulance transport abroad.

Hospitalisation

You are entitled to reimbursement of your actual expenses up to a maximum of NOK 4045/started day (3920 in 2019) on necessary hospital stays abroad. The reimbursement rate is set annually by the Norwegian Parliament and includes medicines and inpatient medical care provided during a stay in hospital.

Hospitalisation expenses exceeding NOK 4045/day will not be reimbursed to you.

The subsidisation for hospitalisation does not usually cover the actual expenses you have to pay. For this reason, Helfo recommends that you take out private health insurance if you will be staying abroad.

Medical care

For necessary medical care from a doctor outside a hospital you will be eligible for subsidisation at the following rates:​

​​Type of treatment ​Weekdays ​Evenings/weekends
​Consultation, GP ​NOK 30 ​NOK 50
​Consultation, specialist ​NOK 45 ​NOK 80
​Home visit, GP ​NOK 45 ​NOK 80
​Home visit, specialist ​NOK 80 ​NOK 140

​You will be eligible for subsidisation at fixed rates for outpatient treatment and other medical care outside a hospital, tests and diagnostics performed by medical laboratories and for radiological examinations and treatment.

In order to be eligible for the maximum allowable subsidisation, you must take care to obtain documentation of the type of medical care you have received, including any tests you have undergone.

Medicinal therapy (medication)

You may be eligible for subsidisation for medication received abroad pursuant to the rules in Section 5-14 of the Norwegian National Insurance Act. This means that you may qualify for subsidisation of medication covered by the Norwegian «blue prescription» (Norwegian: blå resept) scheme. In some cases medication under the hospitals' responsibility can also be funded by Helfo when received abroad. The reimbursement rules in the act section 5-22 will under certain circumstances still be applied for medication bought up to December 31, 2019. The rules may imply a partial reimbursement of your expenses for medication outside the «blue prescription» scheme.

You will usually have to pay a deductible (out-of-pocket maximum) for blue-prescription medication. Your expenses on medication do not carry entitlement to an exemption card. Children under the age of 16 and recipients of a minimal state pension (Norwegian: minstepensjon) do not have to pay a deductible, meaning that their medication is free.

Any claim for reimbursement of expenses on medication must be supported by a statement by the treatment provider abroad. The medical statement must state the name of the medication, its active ingredient(s), any medicines you have been prescribed previously, your diagnosis and how long you will be taking the medication for.

Expenses on medication (pursuant to Section 5-14 of the Norwegian National Insurance Act) for treatment of occupational injury or illness are covered without deduction of user fees. There must be a causal relationship between the occupational injury and the need for the health service. You must have received a decision from NAV certifying the occupational injury or illness.

Medical consumables

You may be eligible for subsidisation of medical consumables pursuant to the rules in Section 5-14 of the Norwegian National Insurance Act. This means that you may qualify for subsidisation of medical consumables covered by the Norwegian "blue prescription" (Norwegian: blå resept) scheme. The products available on a blue prescription must appear in Helfo's product and price list for the condition in question. Find out more about this on the "Blue prescription, white prescription and the contribution scheme" page (in Norwegian).

In some cases, you may be entitled to partial coverage of expenses on medical consumables through the so-called contribution scheme. The material must be purchased at a pharmacy or from a surgical supplier. Find out more about this on the "Payment for bandages, consumables and non-prescription medicines" page (in Norwegian).

Expenses on medical consumables (pursuant to Section 5-14 of the Norwegian National Insurance Act) for treatment of occupational injury or illness are covered without deduction of user fees. There must be a causal relationship between the occupational injury and the need for the health service. You must have received a decision from NAV certifying the occupational injury or illness.

Psychologist

Any claim for reimbursement of expenses must be enclosed with a letter of referral from a doctor. The subsidisation amount is calculated using fixed rates.

Physical therapy

You may be eligible for physical therapy. A referral from a doctor is no longer required. The therapy must be of significant value for your medical condition and physical functioning. The subsidisation amount is calculated using fixed rates.

The expenses for the treatment of occupational injury are covered in accordance with a fee rate (reimbursement rate + user fees). There must be a causal relationship between the occupational injury and the need for the health service. You must have received a decision from NAV certifying the occupational injury or illness.

Chiropractic therapy

For necessary therapy from a chiropractor you are entitled to a reimbursement of NOK 148 for the first consultation and then NOK 68 for any subsequent therapy sessions.

Dental care

The majority of people over the age of 20 are not eligible for free dental care, but certain exemptions are made in the case of certain medical conditions. The article «Who pays your dental bill?» provides information about eligible medical conditions.

Under ordinary subsidisation, children and young people are only covered for dental treatment comprised by these medical conditions. Dental treatment that in Norway is covered by the county municipality is not covered.

The subsidisation from the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme is calculated differently depending on the type of medical condition necessitating the dental work. Expenses abroad are covered at the same rates as in Norway.

The expenses for the treatment of occupational injury are covered in accordance with a fee rate (reimbursement rate + user fees). There must be a causal relationship between the occupational injury and the need for the health service. You must have received a decision from NAV certifying the occupational injury or illness.

Orthodontic treatment

Expenses on necessary orthodontic work (straightening of irregular teeth) abroad are covered at the same rates as in Norway. This means that your expenses will be reimbursed at 40-100% of the fixed rates. You will not be reimbursed for "invisible" braces (e.g. Invisalign), i.e. orthodontic treatment with clear removable aligners.

Orthodontic treatment has separate rates for examinations, x-rays, photos, models, treatment planning, fitting of fixed appliances, treatment checks (replacement of bows, tightening etc.), removal of appliances, fitting of retainers and post-treatment checks. 

You can find the rates in the Norwegian Directorate of Health's «Takster for tannbehandling» under item G.

The subsidisation is determined by Helfo based on the necessity of the treatment and any sibling discount. Eligibility for a sibling discount must be documented by a statement from the treating orthodontist, who confirms that siblings have had expenses on orthodontic treatment.

For the initial assessment for orthodontic work, you must ensure that the following form is completed by the orthodontist who treats you outside Norway:

You must also have documentation of which treatment has been performed. The orthodontist does this by completing the following form:

These forms must be enclosed with your claim form together with your X-rays and treatment plan.

Please note that the treating orthodontist must fill in a new description of treatment (form 05-24.15) for each visit. These must be sent to Helfo within 6 months of each individual treatment date together with itemised receipts.

If the orthodontic treatment was started in Norway, Helfo requires a statement from the Norwegian orthodontist concerning which reimbursement group (40-100%) the patient belongs to.

Logopaedics

In certain cases, subsidisation is granted for the treatment of language and speech disorders by a speech therapist or teacher of the hard of hearing/deaf. You must hold a referral letter from a doctor.

Logopaedic therapy which in Norway is provided under local or regional authorities does not qualify for reimbursement. You can request Helfo to perform an assessment of your entitlements before you start any therapy.

Infertility treatment

You can apply for reimbursement for the expenses for infertility treatment abroad if the treatment is equivalent to what you would have received in Norway. You and your partner must be married, registered partners or cohabitants to get partial expense reimbursement. You must also fulfill the conditions for treatment of infertility according to the Norwegian law on biotechnology (bioteknologiloven – in Norwegian).

You may be reimbursed for up to three attempts per child. You may be entitled to reimbursement of your expenses for fertility drugs, according to the rules laid out in the National Insurance Act section 5-22.

Expenses on oxygen therapy

You receive full reimbursement of your actual expenses.

Expenses on dialysis

You receive full reimbursement of your actual expenses.

Travel expenses

When you have received healthcare abroad, your travel expenses are covered according to the same rules as in Norway. This means that when you have received healthcare abroad, your expenses will be covered to the same extent as if your treatment was received in Norway.

In Norway, the main rule is that you can be reimbursed with a standard rate per kilometre (in Norwegian), regardless of which means of transportation you have used. According to the Norwegian rules, you must travel to the nearest place the healthcare can be given.

If you wish to apply for coverage of travel and accommodation expenses in connection with treatment and there is no medically justifiable health service where you are staying, you need confirmation of this from a doctor at the place you are staying. The confirmation must contain information about the medical necessity of travelling to another town or another country and where the nearest medically justifiable health service is.

Your expenses will only be reimbursed if the trip is longer than ten kilometres each way and the cost is higher than the local minimum rate of public transportation. User fee per trip (each way) is NOK 159 (in 2020).

Living expenses

For necessary expenses on board and lodging (in Norwegian) during treatment away from your place of ordinary residence abroad, you will be reimbursed according to the same rules as in Norway. The rates are shown here (in Norwegian). To be entitled to coverage for board and lodging, you must be granted subsidisation for the health care and travel expenses.  

What types of healthcare expenses are not eligible for ordinary subsidisation?

​You cannot be reimbursed for health services which in Norway are covered by acts other than the Norwegian National Insurance Act while you are staying abroad.

This means that no subsidisation is granted for vaccination, ordinary dentistry for children, home help service, nursing home residence, rehabilitation services, health checks and other services under the Norwegian Health and Care Services Act, Dental Health Services Act and Specialist Health Services Act.

However, as a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Act with entitlement to subsidisation, you may travel to Norway to receive healthcare on the same terms as you would if you were ordinarily resident in Norway. Note, however, that your expenses on return travel to Norway will not be covered.