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Foreign tourists Owe ISK 450 Million In Outstanding Health Care Costs

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Foreign tourists Owe ISK 450 Million In Outstanding Health Care Costs

Laki crater

Photo: Zoë Robert.

Foreign tourists owe the Icelandic government an excess of ISK 450 million [$4,554,000] for healthcare provided from 2008 – 2017, RÚV reports. Around ISK 90 million has been written off from this debt. Annual healthcare costs for foreign visitors have more than tripled over just a few years, coming to more than a billion krónur for last year alone.

This information came forth in a statement from the Minister of Health in her response to an inquiry from Birgir Þórarinsson, MP from the Center Party. Icelandic state health insurance has the highest tourist-related expenses of any country in the EEA. Tourists coming from countries outside the EEA are entitled to emergency medical assistance but are charged full fees for non-emergency medical service. Iceland’s state insurance does not, however, have an intermediary or other method of recouping medical fees from visitors from outside of the EEA.

On average, healthcare costs associated with tourists amounted to ISK 300 million between 2008 and 2014. In 2015, however, this amount doubled; it had tripled by 2017. The highest costs—ISK 870 million [$8,804,400]—were incurred, understandably, at the National and University Hospital in Reykjavík, followed by the hospital in Akureyri, where costs came to roughly ISK 100 million [$1,012,000].

It should be noted, however, that few administrative organizations in Iceland make distinctions in their data about whether payments are owed by (or have been received from, for that matter) uninsured individuals who are foreign tourists, foreign workers in Iceland who have not yet received their kennitalas (national ID numbers), asylum seekers, or even Icelanders who are, for one reason or another, uninsured in Iceland.

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