Healthcare in Switzerland


Switzerland's healthcare system is a cut above the rest. Aside from its superior quality, it is always a government priority with about 11.5% of the country's GDP going toward healthcare expenditure. 

The Swiss healthcare system is not financed by tax or by employers. Instead, it is heavily funded by individuals through their contributions to health insurance schemes. In most cases, global health insurance policies obtained from other countries will not be honoured. Instead, expats are required to purchase insurance from any of the Swiss public or private insurance companies. These companies offer various arrangements, some costing up to 10,000 CHF, while discounts may be given when the insurance is part of a group policy offered by an employer. 

Swiss Health Insurance 

Everyone in Switzerland must have at least the basic health and accident insurance (Soziale Krankenversicherung / Assurance maladie / Assicurazione-Mallatie). There are roughly 80 companies in Switzerland that offer the same types of benefits in their basic health insurance plans. These companies are required by law to accept any applicant regardless of his pre-existing health/medical conditions. The Swiss basic insurance covers: 

  • Out-patient treatment
  • Emergency services
  • Vaccinations
  • Medicines prescribed by doctors
  • Maternity check-ups and tests
  • Rehabilitation after illness or operation/surgery 

All residents in Switzerland are obliged to purchase health insurance, and infants should be insured by their parent's scheme by their third month of life. Expatriates need to have insurance within the first three months of arrival, and the responsibility rests with the individual, as employers don't always provide assistance. The same is true for the expatriate’s spouse and children, who will not be covered under one parent's policy. However, exceptions apply to instances when the expat is an international civil servant or a member of a permanent international mission. In this case, all family members living in the country are exempted from the rule. 

Visiting a Doctor 

When seeing a private doctor, a patient usually has to set an appointment with the secretary, while public Doctors will see anyone who walks in. After a visit, a patient does not pay any amount but can expect a bill within 60-90 days from the doctor. After payment, the patient may file for reimbursement from his insurer. Anyone can see any GP in any clinic or hospital in Switzerland with or without a GP's referral. 

To see a doctor, one can ask for referrals from fellow expats or check online listings. Language is the typical problem of foreigners in Switzerland when seeing a local doctor. However, this can be managed simply by looking specifically for listings of English-speaking doctors in Switzerland by inquiring from one's embassy

Hospitals in Switzerland 

The Swiss healthcare system is comprised of both the private and the public sector. Each sector boasts modernised facilities, equipments and treatments and expats will soon realise that there is not much of a difference between the qualities of the two. Hospitals in Switzerland are called Krankenhaus and are marked with a white ‘H’ on a blue background. Every canton in this country has its hospital where expats can go but a referral from a GP is a must unless it is an emergency situation. Patients must also bring their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or proof of Swiss health insurance policy whenever they visit the hospital. 

Brauerstrasse 15, 8401 Winterthur

Tel: 052 266 21 21 

Steinwiesstrasse 75, 8032 Zürich

Tel: +41 44 266 71 11 

Spitalstrasse 21, 4056 Basel

Tel: +41 61 265 25 25 

Freiburgstrasse 8, 3010 Bern

Tel: +41 31 632 21 11


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