Residents in Sweden are entitled to nearly all the benefits available to Swedish citizens. Part of the social security system is designed to ensure a minimum standard of living based only on residence. Heavily subsidized health care and childcare systems are some of the benefits included, as well as partially subsidized dental care. By living in Sweden for over a year, residents will benefit from Swedish social insurance — a basic support system for everyday needs and a safety net when necessary.
Health care is accessible to everyone living in Sweden. And should you happen to fall ill, it will not cost you a fortune; tax subsidies radically reduce costs for individuals. In fact, appointments for children up to the age of 18 are free in most counties, as are all natal appointments and check-ups. When ill, you should first visit a local health center. If necessary, your doctor will refer you to a hospital or specialist.
While there are some costs associated with doctor’s visits — fees at the local health center are fairly low, while visits to a specialist are somewhat higher — but there are limits to what you pay. High-cost protection (högkostnadsskydd) means you never pay more than SEK 900 in patient fees in a 12-month period, according to the rates for 2012. Once you have paid SEK 900, you get a free pass, which is valid for a year from the date of your first appointment. An additional form of protection covers yearly prescription medicine costs over SEK 2,200.
From checkups to braces, dental care in Sweden is free of charge for children until the year they turn 20. As adults, patients can take advantage of the voucher system for reasonably priced quality care that is high-cost protected.
While dental care is free of charge for everyone until the age of 20, older patients receive a dental care allowance for regular visits to the dentist. According to the 2012 rates, the allowance is SEK 300 every year for those aged 20–29 or 75 and over, and SEK 150 every year for people aged 30–74.
High-cost protection (högkostnadsskydd) allows for subsidies when dental care costs exceed SEK 3,000. Costs between SEK 3,000 and 15,000 are subsidized by 50 percent, while those over SEK 15,000 are subsidized by 85 percent.
Benefits for families with children
Children are a high priority in the Swedish social welfare system. From paid parental leave for staying home with small children to state-funded child allowances, the social benefits for families with children are comprehensive, allowing for flexible solutions to balance work and family life.
All children who live in Sweden are entitled to child allowance (barnbidrag). This monthly, tax-free allowance is paid until the child reaches the age of 16. After 16, children in full-time education are entitled to a study allowance (studiebidrag). Special large family supplement is paid to families with two or more children.
There are also additional benefits for children with disabilities or illness. To account for the added work and expenses required for these children, financial allowances are available according to the child’s needs.
With a total of 480 paid days, parental leave (föräldraledighet) is very generous in Sweden and allows parents to be away from work in order to care for children.
Read more about parental leave under the section Employment-based benefits
By living in Sweden you are included in the Swedish pension system, which consists of two main parts: the guaranteed pension and the income pension. Swedish citizens and residents are guaranteed a tax-funded minimum pension upon retirement to assist those with low or no income-based pension. The guarantee pension, which will be higher or lower depending on how long you've lived in the country, is completely funded by the state.
Though one pension is guaranteed by the state, it is set at a minimum level. On top of this amount, pension is earned from contributions from you and your employer throughout your working life in Sweden. Even if you stop working in Sweden and move to another country, once you reach retirement age you retain the income pension that you have earned during your time in Sweden.
Read more about the employment-based pension
Sweden invests more of its gross domestic product (GDP) in its elderly citizens than most countries in the world, making it a good place to grow old. The elderly represent a growing part of the population, and many are in good health and lead active lives. Most live in their own homes. In 2008 life expectancy in Sweden was 83 years for women and 79 years for men. The retirement age is 65.
A number of welfare systems ensure that older people are able to lead normal, independent lives. This includes living in their own homes for as long as possible, where they have access to public support, including home meal delivery, cleaning and shopping assistance, as well as transportation service.
The elderly are also offered health and social care, provided either by the municipal home-help services, or by the home medical care service. In many areas, the elderly themselves are allowed to choose whether they want their home help or special housing to be managed by public or private operators.
A growing number of the elderly in Sweden choose to live in senior housing, which consists of ordinary homes for people over 55. In such homes, accessibility is a priority. A small percentage of people over 80 years of age live in special housing units, where staff members are on duty for 24-hour care. Such housing is need-based and distributed by the municipalities.