A nice day with the doctor…in Norway


About a month or so ago I decided to spend the holidays at home in Norway. The first thing I did after alerting friends and family of my arrival was to go online to schedule an appointment with my primary physician. I was off to a great start as I got an appointment on the day I wanted and at the time I wanted. My appointment was at 1:40 p.m. I was there about five minutes early to check in and at 1:40 exactly the doctor called my name. Unlike my visits with health professionals in Minnesota, it is the physician who does your in-take and is the sole person you deal with for the entirety of the visit.

There is a misconception that in a government-run health care system you face long waits and limited time with the doctor, not to mention the dreaded rationing of care. This could not be farther from the truth when it came to my visit. Not only was my doctor timely, he was extremely patient.

We talked through any concern I had and my appointment lasted about 30 minutes. Additionally, he ordered up bloodwork and allergy tests for me. Usually an appointment with the doctor costs 130 kr, or about $22. Because of the tests he ordered for me, I ended up with the enormous bill of 254 kr, or $43. Best of all, I paid the entirety of the visit when I was there and will not have to deal with invoices for the next month or so.

My visit with the doctor was nothing sensational and that is precisely why I wanted to share it. Government-run health care can be both efficient and high quality, with great customer service. Unlike my visits with doctors in the U.S, this was simple and pleasant. And my experience is not unusual, nor is it only for the select few on Cadillac plans.

An afterthought: I got my results back from the tests and I had some questions. I called my doctor’s office to talk to my physician, but he was unavailable; however, the receptionist took my number for him to call me back. About 30 minutes later the doctor called me, answered all my questions, issued a prescription for some allergy pills, which he sent me in the mail, and that was that.