Starting 2021 also the students from the Universities of Applied Sciences will have access to the primary student healthcare services provided by the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS).
Unfortunately, another consequence is that the exchange students will not be entitled to use the FSHS anymore.
The reform raises questions: why are exchange students excluded from the FSHS? How will they find access to healthcare services in the future?
Foreign students that attend a degree in Finland will still be entitled to the student health care services. They also have to pay the healthcare fee.
Until now this fee was paid to TYY, the Student Union. After the reform it goes directly to Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, which will be responsible for organizing the student healthcare nationwide. The exchange students cannot pay this fee but do need to have healthcare insurance.
Part of the financing of FSHS is paid by the Finnish state, which complicates the situation. It is not possible to charge a healthcare fee to an exchange student coming from another EU/EEA country, because they already pay insurance fees in their home country.
Besides that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (MSAH) makes clear that the main objective of student healthcare is to provide preventive health care services.
Preventive services are not considered part of the health care covered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Exchange students are here temporarily, so they are consequently not entitled to student healthcare, which has a long-term perspective.
For exchange students coming from third countries, a private health insurance is a requirement for the right to reside in Finland. This implies to justify their exclusion as well.
Touko Niinimäki, social policy advisor at SYL, the National Union of the University Students in Finland, says that while the decision is based on EU regulations, it puts students in unequal positions.
Even from 2021 onwards, the regulations that already apply now, remain. The change is that instead of FSHS services, exchange students are referred to public or private services.
Exchange students coming from EU/EEA area or Switzerland or Australia are restricted to medically necessary treatment with the EHIC. The exchange students from third countries can only receive emergency treatment and are responsible for the costs themselves.
Yet it is unclear how the exchange students arriving for the whole academic year 2020–21 will be treated. The MSAH explains that the current system varies by municipality. The University of Turku together with TYY will have to find a way to inform the exchange students to know where to get their healthcare.
“We strongly encourage student unions to work in cooperation with local public healthcare so that they'll be prepared for the transition," comments SYL’s Niinimäki.
Comment: I took my healthcare insurance for granted
The exchange students will be excluded from the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) as of 2021.
When I went on exchange to Finland, I took my healthcare insurance for granted. I am an EU citizen and the FSHS was clear and helpful.
How will the exchange students find their way to healthcare in Finland now? It will be important to communicate the changes properly because healthcare is a delicate matter and therefore it is crucial to feel well informed.
YTHS laajentuu vuoden 2021 alusta ammattikorkeakouluopiskelijoiden piiriin: asiakasmäärä tuplaantuu 270 000 asiakkaaseen, ja samalla paikkakuntien määrä kolminkertaistuu. Henkilöstön määrä tulee myös lähes tuplaantumaan. (2/2020)