Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

My (Brief!) Encounter with the Danish Health Care System | October 1, 2009

Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling with a cold for the last few days. Productive cough (aka hacking up nasty stuff), sore throat, neck ache, etc… So I finally decided to do something about it and make a foray into the Danish health care system to see a Doctor.

When you arrive in Denmark for an extended stay (>3 months), you have to register at one of the municipal centers to receive a CPR number. Without getting into too much detail, the CPR number is akin to a temporary social security number. During the registration process, you also select a Doctor of your choice from a list of local practitioners. About a week later, you receive your CPR confirmation, as well as your national health insurance card, which allows you to see any Doctor or go to any hospital for no charge. No bills. No reimbursements. No money changing hands in any way, shape or form during the process.

Many Americans have heard nightmare stories about European health care. Long lines. Incomplete care, etc etc. That was not my experience at all. I simply showed up, waited a few minutes for the nurse (much like I would have done in the States), took a strep throat test, waited a few more minutes for the results, and then the Doctor finally gave me a quick check-up. No fuss. No muss. Just quality, free health care.

Of course, I went in for a simple check up. I don’t have a persistent condition (i.e. diabetes or cancer or AIDS) that would require large amounts of medical attention, but from everything I’ve heard, the Danes are very satisfied with their health care system. Do the Danes pay more in taxes for their health care system? Absolutely. But no major political party would even consider removing their national health insurance system. It would be blasphemy to even suggest it. And when you consider that the Danes spend roughly 8.5%  of GDP on health care vs. 17% of GDP in the United States, you begin to understand why.

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