Healthcare in Geneva



More often than not, expats, especially those moving with their families, worry about the quality of healthcare in their chosen destination.

But, if you're moving to Geneva, fret not. Because in a city such as Geneva, which has the third highest quality of life in the world, healthcare leaves nothing to be desired.

Healthcare Insurance Overview

Swiss cities are known all over the world to have one of the best healthcare systems. In fact, in the last survey by the World Health Organization (WHO), Switzerland ranked 20th in terms of quality health care among 190 countries.

Securing healthcare insurance is mandatory for all residents of the country. The only exemptions of this are international civil servants, members of permanent missions and their family members.

All residents are required to have the basic healthcare package provided by different insurance providers in the country. There are about 109 compulsory health insurance providers. Their basic packages are regulated by the Federal Health Insurance Act of 1994.

The coverage through the basic healthcare coverage is also detailed in this legal mandate. This includes emergency services, hospitalisation, out-patient services, and necessary medicines.

Dental services are not included in the basic insurance package, so you would need to purchase a separate dental insurance policy or addition.

These insurance providers are also obligated by law to offer this coverage to everyone, whatever their age or medical condition. They are allowed to profit only for supplemental health plans, but not from the compulsory plans.

Because of these regulations, all residents get quality healthcare insurance without double standards.

The amount of premium that a covered individual has to pay would not depend on personal income but is community-rated. This means that all subscribers to a particular insurance company within a canton or sub-region pay the same rate. Premiums are computed based on healthcare expenditure in the particular sub-region.

Back in 2004, the average premium for compulsory health insurance costs about 170.32 Euro. However, for low-income families, the costs are subsidised by the government.

If one has the compulsory insurance scheme, he is also required to pay a yearly franchise or contribution towards his annual medical costs. This is an annual yearly limit of 204.39 Euro. The higher you pay towards this annual contribution (not exceeding the limit of course), the lower your monthly premiums would be.

Expat Healthcare Must-Knows 

As an expat in Geneva, there is certain healthcare must-know (aside from the basic information provided above) you should have.

First and foremost, as a foreign national moving to this Swiss city, you are required to secure the compulsory health insurance within three months of your arrival. If you have international health insurance, then all better, for this provides you additional coverage.

In fact, almost 40% of the Swiss population avail of supplemental insurance on top of the law mandated basic health insurance.

Swiss cities have numerous healthcare professionals and facilities, all provided with world-class quality. You are free to choose which doctor you would like to consult with. The website provides a listing of doctors.

Keep in mind though that not all doctors may be able to speak your language or even English. If you want a doctor that speaks your language, then consult your embassy or consulate in the city so they can refer you to one.

There is no ‘free' medical care in Switzerland, or Geneva in this case. So always be ready with cash (even in emergency cases) as deposits may be required, especially for admittance to a hospital. You may then present the bill to your provider, and they will reimburse you for what is covered under your insurance.

Do not confuse pharmacies with drugstores. Pharmacies are the main sources of medicine and can be distinguished by a sign of a green cross on a white background. Drugstores, on the other hand, are like mini-grocery stores that also sell medicines, mostly non-prescription ones.

Doctor-prescribed medicines are covered by compulsory health insurance. For non-prescription drugs, you'd have to cover the entire cost. Medicines can be quite expensive in Geneva, so if there's a certain kind of painkiller or cold remedy that you often need, bring a ready stock with you when you move.


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Healthcare in Switzerland