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Hospital Visits by Foreign Visitors Up by 193 Percent

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Hospital Visits by Foreign Visitors Up by 193 Percent

Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

An ever-increasing number of visitors to Iceland require medical treatment at the country’s national hospital, Landspítali. Over the period spanning 2013-2016, there was a 193 percent increase in the number of foreign visitors who received medical care, according to numbers from the hospital published on mbl.is. In 2013, 1,594 foreign visitors were treated at the hospital, as opposed to 4,665 in 2017. Likewise, the amount collected from billing uninsured patients has more than doubled, from 271 million ISK in 2013 to 604 million ISK in 2016. Unpaid bills amount to a sum of 30-35 million ISK.

Foreign visitors are more likely to make use of more, and more complex, medical services than Icelanders. Hospital staff are tasked with assisting patients in filling out forms, as well as communicating with insurance companies in the patient’s country of origin, considerably increasing their workload. Medical flights, for those patients that require it, are a significant administrative task. Finally, there is expenditure associated with hiring interpreters to assist during the hospital stay and translators to translate documents upon a patient's release.

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