The healthcare system in Switzerland

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Updated 2021-01-08 14:08

Switzerland has nearly 400 modern hospitals and private clinics with hi-tech equipment. Moreover, the country has thousands of qualified and competent general and specialist doctors, as well as skilled paramedics. Swiss medical institutions are managed by the different cantons' local authorities. But to access all of that, you'll need to purchase a health insurance if you're staying in Switzerland for more than 90 days.

How the healthcare system works

Health services are not free in Switzerland. If you're planning on staying in the country for more than three months, you are obliged to purchase the basic health insurance package. What the package must cover is defined by law, but when it comes to the service provider, you can actually choose among more than sixty health insurance businesses. If you want, you can also 'upgrade' your basic package by adding extras like additional therapies covered, a free choice of hospitals and private rooms. Charges can be relatively high in comparison to other European countries. You can use the Comparis website to find quotes for numerous health-insurance providers and decide which one is best for you.

Some of the leading health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on Expat.com's Health Insurance for expatriates in Switzerland page.

Good to know:

EU citizens may apply for a European Health Insurance Card if they intend to live in Switzerland for at least six months. The request must be made at least two weeks before the scheduled date of departure. If you are travelling to Switzerland with your family, each member must be in possession of their own health insurance card.

Once you arrive in Switzerland and provided you have purchased your health insurance (as you will be asked for your insurance details prior to booking an appointment), you need to register with a general practitioner. Your GP is the person you will call if you fall ill. If you have opted for the basic package, you should know that it does not cover accidents; you'll have to purchase a separate 'accident insurance' for that. If you have a job and work for more than eight hours per week, you are covered by the insurance policy of your employer which usually covers accidents.

Good to know:

In case of emergency in Switzerland, please call 144 to be connected with the ambulance service. Dial 118 for the fire services, and 117 for the police.

Premium reductions

If your income is low and/or you have many children, you are entitled to some support in paying your health insurance premium. It really varies from canton to canton, so if you want to check whether you are entitled to a reduction, you should contact your cantonal office. In many cases, the local authorities will contact you themselves if you are actually entitled to a reduction, as your financial circumstances are being checked when you file your tax declaration each year (consult our Tax article for more info). In some other cases though, you will have to actively request for a reduction every year, in order to become entitled to receive one.

Useful links:

Swiss Care
Swica
Federal Office of Public Health
Comparis

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