Health care for asylum seekers

As an asylum seeker in Sweden, you are entitled to emergency healthcare and dental care, and health care that cannot wait.

Public health and medical care in Sweden is managed by county councils or regions. These exist throughout the country.

When you become sick or injure yourself, you should first turn to a healthcare centre. Often you must make an appointment before visiting the healthcare centre. Please state if you require an interpreter when making an appointment. If you become acutely ill and need an ambulance, call the emergency number 112.

Further down in this text there is information on how to find the care you require, and where to get advice or more information.

Right to healthcare

When you seek asylum in Sweden, you are entitled to emergency healthcare and dental care, and health care that cannot wait. It is the county council/region that decides which type of healthcare you can receive. You are also entitled to childbirth care, abortion care, advice on contraception, maternity care and healthcare under the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act (a law intended to prevent the spread of contagious diseases).

Children and young people under 18 seeking asylum are entitled to the same healthcare and dental care as children resident in Sweden. Healthcare is largely free of cost for children, but this can vary depending on where you live. Medicine for children is free if there is a prescription from a doctor.

You are entitled to an interpreter when visiting healthcare staff. Please specify if you require an interpreter when making an appointment.

Health assessment

All asylum seekers are offered a health assessment. You will receive an invitation to a free health assessment as soon as possible after you apply for asylum.

The health assessment will not affect your application for asylum. It is there for you and to enable you to get prompt assistance if you need care. At the health assessment, you will receive advice about health matters, the option of having tests done, and information about the health and medical care service in Sweden. The healthcare staff do not work for the Migration Agency and are bound by a duty of confidentiality.

Violence and sexual assault

Many asylum seekers have been the victims of violence or sexual assault, in their home country or during the journey to Sweden. Such experiences can be detrimental to both physical and mental health. In addition to physical injuries, you may, for example, become depressed, develop anxiety or have difficulty sleeping. During the health assessment, tell the healthcare staff about the problems you are experiencing so that they can help you receive the right care.

All forms of violence and sexual assault are illegal in Sweden. It is always the person who has harmed you who is to blame, and you can never be punished for having been the victim of violence or sexual assault. This is the case regardless of the relationship you have to one another; for example, this also applies to marital rape and beating children. Contact the police if you are a victim.

Female genital mutilation

We are aware that female genital mutilation is performed in many parts of the world. This is when somebody cuts a girl’s or a woman’s genitalia. Female genital mutilation is absolutely prohibited in Sweden and is regarded as a serious crime. Someone who has been a victim of this can develop both physical and psychological problems. If somebody has done this to you or your daughter, and you or she has problems as a result, you can receive help from the healthcare system. Speak to the staff at the health assessment or at your nearest healthcare centre.

Sexually transmitted diseases

You are entitled to receive information on how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid infecting others. Examples of sexually transmitted diseases include chlamydia, hepatitis, gonorrhoea and HIV. If you know that you have such a disease, you must tell the healthcare staff so that you can receive care and avoid infecting someone else. Speak to the staff when attending your health assessment. If you are unsure whether you have been infected, the healthcare staff can take tests.

Contraception and maternal care

In Sweden, maternal care and obstetric care are free for asylum seekers. This includes care in connection with abortions. You also have the right to free advice on contraception, so you can choose whether you wish to become a parent. Both girls and boys have the right to information on how to protect themselves and others against pregnancy.

There are many forms of contraception. You can buy condoms at the pharmacy or in the supermarket. If you would like a different form of contraception, a doctor or midwife can write a prescription for the type that you decide suits you. Contraception with a prescription is free for those under 21 years old, and in some parts of the country you only pay a small cost up until you are 25 years old.

If you are pregnant, speak to the healthcare staff during your health assessment or contact the maternity ward at your nearest hospital to discuss what type of care you require.

Mental health issues

It is normal to feel anxious about what will happen in the future while awaiting a decision on your asylum application. Many asylum seekers also feel psychologically unwell because of their experiences or concerns about their families. Examples of feeling psychologically unwell may be anxiety, difficulty sleeping or feeling sad and lethargic.

You can receive help and support from the healthcare centre in the area where you live. Speak to the healthcare staff when attending your health assessment. If you are worried that your child is unwell, talk to the staff at the childcare centre or at the child's school.

Disability

At the health assessment, you also have the opportunity to inform healthcare staff if you have, or if you think you have, a disability. In other words, if you have an impaired ability to function physically, psychologically or intellectually.

If you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to communicate while applying for asylum, you can receive help and support. Having a disability will not prevent you from obtaining a residence permit.

If you have a disability and you obtain a residence permit in Sweden, you are entitled to support that makes it easier for you to integrate into Swedish society.

Dental care

Adults are entitled to emergency dental care. The dentist will assess whether your need for dental care is urgent and what kind of treatment you should receive. Children are entitled to both emergency and preventive dental care. Dental care is free for all children in Sweden.

If you require dental care, you should go to the public dental service or any other dentist the county council/region refers to.

Eyesight examination

If you think you need glasses, you can go to any optician you like and get an eyesight examination. If you need to buy glasses, the optician will sign a paper that you must bring to the Migration Agency, so that you can apply for a special allowance for this. It is the staff at the Swedish Migration Agency that decides if you will receive financial support for buying glasses or not. You must have received the decision before you can order glasses.

Medicine

You can buy various types of medicine and other health products at the pharmacy. Here is also where you collect medicines that a doctor has prescribed for you. Remember to show your LMA card when collecting prescription medicines. If you do this, you will pay a lower cost for most of the medicines that a doctor has decided you need.

More information on health and medical care

  • Information in several languages on diseases and how healthcare in Sweden works can be found on the website www.1177.seexternal link, opens in new window . There you can also find telephone numbers for the healthcare centres and dentists located in the area where you live.
  • You can also call the Healthcare Guide (1177 Vårdguiden) on the telephone number 1177. On this number you can speak to a nurse who can answer questions and give advice on healthcare. The nurse may also assess your need for care, and refer you to the appropriate healthcare centre if necessary.
  • If you have psychological problems, you can call the healthcare helpline on the telephone number 0771‑22 00 60. You can receive psychological support via telephone, daily from 1 pm to 10 pm. You can remain anonymous. 
  • Information in several languages for young people about health, relationships, sex and much more can be found on the website http://www.youmo.se/external link, opens in new window.
  • The National Women’s Helpline (Kvinnofridslinjen) offers advice and support for women who have been subjected to threats and physical, psychological and sexual violence.d.
    Call 020‑505050. An interpreter will be arranged within a few minutes. You can read more on www.kvinnofridslinjen.se. Information can be found in several languages.
  • The staff at your reception centre or the residential staff can help you find more information and find out where to go to receive the right care in the area where you live.

Patient transport

If, due to ill health, you are unable to get to the healthcare centre on your own, you can book patient transport. You can also receive compensation for the costs of travel to and from a healthcare centre or hospital if there are medical grounds for this. It is your healthcare provider who will assess whether you are entitled to patient transport. Call the Healthcare Guide (1177 Vårdguiden) on 1177 for more information about what rules apply to the county council/region where you live.

Read more on www.1177.se/Regler-och-rattigheter/Sjukresor/external link, opens in new window (only in Swedish)

Bring your LMA card

When you visit a healthcare provider or collect a medicine from a pharmacy, you need to show your LMA card. If you have not yet received your LMA card, you must show your receipt proving that you have applied for asylum. In some cases, you pay a lower patient fee if you show your LMA card when visiting the healthcare centre. You also pay a lower cost for most medicines you buy with a prescription from a doctor if you show the card at the pharmacy.

Last updated: 12 November 2018

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