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An ”OK” Grade for Student Health

Long waiting lines and communication problems make it difficult for international students to get health services in Jyväskylä.

International students at the University of Jyväskylä are mostly satisfied with health care services in Finland. A recent study shows that about 82 percent of international students feel that they receive necessary health care.
However, the long waiting lines at the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) and communication problems with health care staff made it more difficult for foreign students to get sufficient health care.
Although the staff at the FSHS was considered friendly and helpful, altogether a fifth of the students experienced problems with communication because of language issues. The number was even higher with other health care providers – there, over half of the students encountered communication problems.
International students were surveyed about health care in Finland last spring by the Student Union of the University of Jyväskylä. The answers were analyzed in August and the final report handed to the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) in September. The results of the study were not totally conclusive – only 72 students out of 837 answered the questionnaire. Among the respondents 26 percent were exchange students and 74 percent degree students.
Still, Foreign Student Adviser Elina Isännäinen from University of Jyväskylä’s International Office considers the study to be of value.
”We are taking the feedback seriously and working on informing students better about health care issues.”
In general, especially the FSHS in considered to give high quality health care. There is not much to complain about the pricing of the service either – 87 percent of respondents were satisfied with how much a doctor’s appointment costs at the FSHS. Currently, most appointments are free of charge, but for example a specialist appointments cost 4,50 euros.
The most costly care – dental appointments, which can go up to 21 euros per visit  – aroused complaints in only two of the respondents.
Other health care services, such as municipal health care , the Central Hospital and the local private health centers received a lesser number in price approval: only 52 percent were satisfied with the prices. Especially private health care was deemed costly in Finland.
The opinions varied a lot, however. This might be due to the fact that health care costs are very different between countries and thus, expectations vary. Isännäinen tells that students’ questions often revolve around medical fees.
”In many cases  a big bill from the hospital comes as a surprise, especially if there are problems with the student’s insurance. We do also get questions from students who are worried about the well-being of their friends”, Isännäinen says.
”Every year there are one or two students who find it hard to settle in a new environment and thus develop mental problems. The right way to seek care is to contact the FSHS, but I’d want to ensure that we also try our best to advice and help students with whatever comes up.”

Marja Honkonen
paatoimittaja(at)jyy.fi

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