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Why are Swedes abroad locked out from security systems?


weden has internationally welldeveloped security systems, where healthcare is a part.The welfare has been built during a number of decades by taxpayers, both Swedes and immigrants. Many of these are pensioners today. In this age of globalization, increasing numbers of these retirees choose to settle, or stay longer time, abroad. A lot of pensioners live outside the EU / EEA area, which means they fall outside the security system that everyone living in Sweden has.

Pensioners without health insurance

A rather significant number of persons are pensioners who reside or stay longer time in warmer – and often cheaper – countries. It can be because you feel better in a warm climate, which is especially true for certain diagnoses. Another common reason is that you have a low pension and are having difficulty coping with it in Sweden. Two thirds of all Swedish pensioners in Thailand totally lack health insurance, according to a simple sur vey made by SAMS (Federation of Swedish Associations in Thailand).This is because the insurances are more expensive the older you are – at a time when the need for an insurance increases. Another problem is that many pensioners already have a disease / diagnosis, which means that no company accepts to insure them. However, if they had remained in Sweden, they had both been helped by Swedish health insurance and Swedish health care - at a significantly higher cost for the Swedish security systems than if they were being treated, with payment from Sweden, at a hospital in Thailand.

Unpaid debts to hospitals

The number of foreigners, incl. Swedes, who do not manage healthcare costs in Thailand are increasing. This gives hospitals – usually state hospitals with already limited resources – problems. 8 ScandAsia • April 2018

Some of the repr. fr. Federation for Swedish Societies in Thailand, fr. left: Kjell Nystrom, Swedes in Udon; Bo Jonsson, Swedes in Phuket; and Lars-Olof Fagerstrom, Swedish Association in Hua Hin Another aspect of this is that people who do not consider they can afford hospital care – refrain from visiting a hospital and try to take care of themselves at home. Sometimes with serious consequences. Annika Strandhäll, Swedish Social Minister has stated that “ever yone should be protected and the security systems should be available when and where we need them”. SAMS has the opinion that there is no logic for the government to distinguish between Swedes inside or outside the EU / EEA area. The Swede abroad who becomes ill can travel to Sweden and get care. But the cost is much higher than for those who are living in Sweden, plus the cost of the travel to Sweden. At the same time, Swedish healthcare is more congested, a healthcare that has suffered from shor tages in capacity for many years, having long care queues. Many also find it hard to understand that Sweden offers free healthcare to people staying illegally in Sweden, but the country can not offer subsidized healthcare to taxpayers who choose to reside outside the EU / EEA.

Issue about justice

Seniors residing in e.g. Thailand pay tax to Sweden. The tax system and the

benefit systems have different rules. You are forced to pay taxes to Sweden, even if you are not entitled or able to avail of the social benefits that residents in Sweden are entitled to. The system is not adapted to today’s mobility patterns and is perceived as unfair. Our legislators must understand that it is reasonable that all taxpayers also get something for the tax. For the Federation of Swedish Societies in Thailand Bo Jonsson, Swedes at Phuket Lars Olof Fagerström, Swedish Association in Hua Hin Kjell Nyström, Swedes in Udon Thani Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ScandAsia Publishing. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. Neither ScandAsia Publishing nor any person acting on its behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein. If you would like to share your thoughts and insights on this page contact Managing editor,

ScandAsia April 2018  

ScandAsia is a magazine dedicated to serve all the Scandinavian people from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland living in China, Hong Kong,...

ScandAsia April 2018  

ScandAsia is a magazine dedicated to serve all the Scandinavian people from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland living in China, Hong Kong,...