Having followed both sides of the US health care debate, I approached the Danish health care system with skepticism. I was prepared for long queues, difficult access, and a poor level of care. But, I've been pleasantly surprised!
I'm not sure this is the place to be if you've got a life threatening illness, there's too much potential for cost cutting and shortcut-taking. But the more I think about it, the more I see that the US system plays a similar game with PCPs, referrals, pre-certifications, etc. My experience in Denmark so far has well exceeded expectations. It's at the very least equal to, and in some ways, better than, the private system I was used to in the US.
The CPR number is the Danish equivalent to the US Social Security number. I swear you cannot do anything without one of these. This little yellow card is my health card, library card, and ticket to a Danish bank account, the tax office, and pretty much every other practical aspect of setting up a life here. In Denmark, everyone who has residency (temporary or permanent) or citizenship has health care.
They've also introduced something called, NEM ID. It's basically a single sign-on to the tax and banking system. I enter my username and password, then I get a 4 digit code, which I look up on a paper card that's sent in the mail. Each 4 digit code corresponds to a single use PIN that I can then use to login. Once I'm out of codes, they automatically send me a new card.
My bank account and the tax office (SKAT) are linked, so my income, interest earned and paid, etc. is automatically shared by my bank with the tax office, and my Danish tax return is figured automatically. As an American, this is an uncomfortable system for me. I'm not used to Big Brother having such easy access to my health records, library records, and spending habits. Yeah, I know, "if you're not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to worry about." Whatever. I'm not a fan of the Patriot Act, either. It's not because I've got anything to hide, it's because I was raised with a certain expectation of privacy and giving that up makes me a bit anxious. It's just so — not American. But, the system is incredibly efficient. If I need to book a doctor appointment, I go to a website, sign in with my CPR number and book online. I can email my doctor and receive a reply the next day. I can call any weekday morning between 8 and 9 and speak with my doctor. I have direct contact, not just an empty promise of "the doctor is with a patient, I'll have her call you."