Choosing a health centre
Everyone has access to a health centre in their municipality of residence. As a public healthcare client, you can also choose which health centre you wish to use. You can choose the place of treatment for non-emergency care from among the health centres in your municipality of residence and also throughout Finland. You can be a client of only one health centre at a time. Your health centre will provide all primary healthcare services such as doctor's and nurse's appointments, maternity and child health clinic services, dental care and rehabilitation services.
As a public health care client, you are free to choose your basic health care provider (health centre) from any location in the country. In order to change your health centre, you must provide written notification to both your current and new health centre. Responsibility for your care will be transferred to the new health centre within three weeks at the latest after your notification has been received. Additional information about local healthcare services and possibly also a form for changing your health centre can be found on your municipality's website or will be provided by your health centre.
Before changing your health centre, find out how and where the services are actually provided. If you switch your health centre to another one, all your primary health care services will also change. They include the child welfare and maternity clinics, dental care, mental health and substance abuse services, and short-term ward care at the health centre.
You cannot choose where you will be provided with school and student health care, or long-term institutional care. Nor can you choose to have home nursing provided anywhere other than in your municipality of residence.
You can change your health centre no more often than once a year.
Include the following personal information in your notification:
- full name
- personal identity code
- telephone number.
Remember to also include
- your current municipality or joint municipal authority that is responsible for your care
- your current health centre
- your new municipality or joint municipal authority that will be responsible for your care
- your new health centre.
You may also state the reason for switching your health centre. If you submit your notification on paper, include your signature and the current date.
Submit your notification to your new health centre. Remember to also submit a copy of it to your current health centre. The same notice can only be used to notify about the change in health centres for one person. This means that you will need to submit a separate notification for each family member.
If you have changed your health centre, you will remain as a client of the new health centre for as long as you want. Should you wish to return to your old health centre, you must issue a written notification. Some municipalities offer their primary health care clients greater freedom of choice than that prescribed in the Health Care Act and may allow their clients to change their health centre more often than once a year.
You can only choose one health centre at a time, and the selection covers all basic health care services. In other words, you cannot pick and choose where to visit a doctor, where to use the laboratory services, and so on. However, some municipalities wish to offer greater freedom of choice than what is prescribed in the Health Care Act. Therefore, you should visit the website of our municipality or your health centre to find out what the agreement on selecting health care services is in the area of your municipality of joint municipal authority.
As a patient, you are not required to transfer your information to the new place of treatment. When you visit the facility for the first time, you will be informed about the joint register and the fact that information can be transferred between the operating units without separate consent. You can also prohibit the disclosure of your information to the new health centre, in which case you are responsible for providing it to the health care professional treating you.
Client fee for outpatient care at a health centre can in many municipalities be paid annually. Annual fee is valid for one calendar year in the health centre to which the payment was made. In other words, if you change your health centre over the course of a calendar year and you have already paid the previous health centre, you must also make the payment to the new one. If you do not pay the annual fee, you will be charged for accessing the services in accordance with the Decree on Client Fees in Social Welfare and Health Care.
The ways in which municipalities provide their residents with healthcare services differ considerably. You should therefore find out what services your municipality and health centre provide. Some municipalities wish to offer their primary healthcare clients greater freedom of choice than that prescribed in the Health Care Act. For example, clients may change their health centre more often than once a year. Dental care and maternity and child health clinic services can also be chosen separately.
Medical supplies and their distribution are always the responsibility of the health centre in charge of your care. If you become a client of a health centre in another municipality, any medical supplies you need in the future will be supplied from that health centre. Medical supplies mean equipment used, for example, in the treatment of diabetes.
The nationwide freedom of choice in healthcare does not apply to Åland. A person who resides on the Finnish mainland cannot choose to be treated in Åland. Correspondingly, a person living in Åland cannot choose public healthcare services that are located on the mainland.