Health Tips When Moving to Switzerland



The Swiss healthcare system is among the best in the world. Quality healthcare delivered by trained medical professionals at world class facilities are all found at hospitals and clinics across the country. All this quality comes at a price.

The Health Insurance Act (Krankenversicherungsgesetz - KVG) makes basic health insurance (Grundversicherung) mandatory for every person living in Switzerland. The following persons may be exempted from procuring basic insurance:

Those with an obligatory health insurance scheme in their home country; it covers the same medical cost as the basic insurance scheme in Switzerland.

Students, interns, scientists and others who are in Switzerland on an exchange or other international program, where the institution or employer has to guarantee that all their medical costs during their stay in Switzerland will be reimbursed and that all expenses not covered by an insurance scheme will be paid.

For employees of foreign companies who are residing in Switzerland for a short time and Diplomats or employees of international organizations, you can shop around for insurance cover options at Remember, Swiss insurance schemes are unlike other European insurance schemes. They cover individuals, not families. Hence you will have to insure every member of your family separately.


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To find a hospital, look up the yellow pages under Spitäler or hôpitaux or look out for a white "H" on a blue background. Hospitals usually admit patients (except for emergencies) with a doctor's referral. You are usually required to visit a hospital in the canton where you are residing.

The type of hospital accommodation assigned to you will depend on your insurance scheme. There are general wards with two to four beds (standard cover), two-bed rooms (half private) or single rooms (private).

Hospitals in Switzerland are expensive and all hospital fees have to be paid for either by you or your insurer. Bills for treatment at a hospital or consultation with a doctor are sent to you and you must pay within 30 days. A copy of the same must be sent to your insurance company to seek reimbursement.

Those who are not resident in Switzerland and do not have adequate health insurance will have to pay a deposit of CHF 2000 to 10,000 at the time of being admitted to a hospital. Even in case of emergencies there is no such thing as "free treatment".


To find a doctor who speaks your native language, contact your embassy or consulate for a list. Doctors (Artz/me'dicin) are listed in the yellow pages. You will find General Practitioners listed under Allegemeine Medizin or me'dicin ge'ne'ral. is an online resource to look up doctors.

Dental care in the country is provided by private and public dental care practices. Dental treatment in Switzerland is extremely expensive.

Remember, standard insurance cover does not give you the right to choose your own doctor.


Drugs and medications are available at the local pharmacy, denoted by a green cross on a white background. You can purchase cough syrup and non-prescriptions drugs at drugstores (Drogerie). Prescription drugs can be procured at pharmacies only against a doctor's prescription (Rezept). In the event of an emergency, there is always at least one pharmacy open in every area, round the clock.

Health insurance policies do not cover non-prescription drugs. In case of the cost of prescription drugs, only medications on the official prescription list are reimbursed by the company (you will get 90% of the cost back). Most insurance companies will provide you with an insurance card which you have to present at the pharmacy, which bills the insurance company and invoices you for 10% of the cost which you have to pay yourself.

Emergency Numbers

In case of an emergency you can look up the back of any Swiss phone directory where you will find a list of emergency numbers.

Police: 117

Ambulance: 144

In Case of an Emergency

In case of an emergency you can call a family doctor. If you call outside surgery hours, don't worry, the answering machine will give you the number of the doctor on call. Besides this you can always dial 144 and ask for an ambulance. Alternatively, if you are physically able to or have someone to assist you, you can head to the emergency (Notfall/urgence) department of the nearest hospital or clinic. In French speaking Switzerland, there are emergency departments (Pikett-Dienst/permanence) for minor injuries as well. Always carry proof of health insurance with you, this may prove to be critical even in an emergency.

Health Risks

There are no major health risks in the country.