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Finland’s health and social services transfer to wellbeing services counties – and MuniFin continues to finance them

Decorative picture of a modern hospital and a nurse holding a baby patient.

In June 2021, the Finnish Parliament adopted the legislative package on Finland’s health and social services reform. From the beginning of 2023, the responsibility for organising health, social and rescue services will be transferred from the municipalities to the 21 self-governing wellbeing services counties. The City of Helsinki is an exception: it will be responsible for organising these services within its own area.

The wellbeing services counties are responsible for organising public services such as primary healthcare, specialised medical treatment, social welfare, dental care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, services for the disabled and housing services for the elderly. Municipalities will continue to provide day care, education, and sports and culture services, for example.

The health and social services reform aims to ensure equal and high-quality health and social services, improve their availability and accessibility and curb their increasing costs. The reform also seeks to reduce health and welfare inequalities, secure the availability of skilled employees and meet the challenges created by demographic changes.

The legislative package adopted in June enables MuniFin to continue to act as the financier of loans transferred from municipalities and joint municipal authorities to the new wellbeing services counties. The Finnish Parliament is currently working on amending the Act on the Municipal Guarantee Board, a key piece of legislation for MuniFin’s operations. If implemented, this amendment would allow MuniFin to finance new investments by the wellbeing services counties and the companies and organisations that they control. This amendment is planned to take effect on 1 May.

The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA) has decided that like the central government and municipalities, wellbeing services counties will also fall in the zero-risk category in the capital adequacy regulation of banks. This decision brings the wellbeing services counties on par with municipalities when it comes to the availability and efficiency of funding. The decision is a welcome one, as long-term investments should be made with long-term financing.

Read more: Reform of healthcare, social welfare and rescue services (external link)