Health and social services

At the moment the municipalities are responsible for organising health and social services. This responsibility will be transferred to 18 new counties in connection with the health and social services reform. The objective is that everyone will have equal opportunities to get the adequate health and social services required by law. The county will safeguard that services are equally available to all people.

  • The intention is that the reform will enter into force on 1 January 2021. The health and social services will be reformed gradually – not everything changes at once.
  • Health and social services will be integrated into well-functioning packages.  Waiting times will be shorter than before because services and care pathways are smoother. People will have faster access to doctors and other services.
  • Their client information will be transferred efficiently between services.
  • People will still get local services where they live.

More freedom of choice for clients

In future clients will have a wider range of health and social services from which to choose. The intention is that publicly funded health and social services will be provided by public, private and third-sector operators. In practice clients could sign up with the health and social services centre and dental clinic of their choice. The treatment facility for specialised medical care can be chosen in the same way as at present.  In addition, the client can choose an unincorporated county enterprise and its unit.

Counties will provide part of the services themselves

Some clients need more health and social services than others. In those cases, a unit of the unincorporated county enterprise (for example social services clinic, hospital or unit offering services for persons with disabilities) will assess the client’s need for services. The client can get the services directly from a unit of the unincorporated county enterprise. Alternatively, the client can be granted a health and social services voucher or a personal budget for getting the services they need. 

Occupational healthcare and private health and social services

There will be occupational healthcare services paid for by employers even in future. Most of people of working age are using these services. Similarly, clients could still get private health and social services on their own expense, for example, using a private health insurance. Costs for health services outside the scope of freedom of choice will not be eligible for health insurance reimbursement after a transition period.

There will be no changes in the access to emergency care

The right to seek urgent treatment will remain as it is, regardless of the person’s home municipality or place of residence. In emergencies people can call 112 or go to the nearest emergency services. The division of responsibilities between hospitals will be reformed. In future, highly specialised treatment will be given in hospitals with extensive emergency care services. This will safeguard a high level of skills and quality in the services.


Kirsi Varhila, Director-General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 338
Pirjo Kainulainen, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. + 358 295 163 092