The Swiss public healthcare system is unusual as it is not financed through taxation or employers. All residents are obliged to have basic private health insurance and are free to choose their own policy from a range of insurance companies. The basic policy covers most of the usual medical treatments, including outpatient treatments, prescription medicines, maternity and accidental injury. Expats who work for more than eight hours a week are automatically covered for accidents by their employers. Insurance premiums vary across cantons and according to the chosen insurance company.
Legal residents must pay a contribution towards medical treatments and consultations. This deductible fee, known as a franchise, can be decreased for a higher monthly premium. There are usually extra bills involved such as hospitalisation fees and prescription fees, which patients are generally expected to settle themselves and claim from their insurers afterwards. Some insurers have payment agreements with certain doctors and hospitals and settle bills directly.
New arrivals to Switzerland have three months to choose their policy and provide proof of insurance to the local authorities. Each family member must be insured individually. Many Swiss residents also opt to take out supplementary private health insurance for more comprehensive cover.
Expats may be exempt from the mandatory Swiss health insurance if they have private international health insurance or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.
That said, the EHIC or GHIC is only a valid form of coverage for visits of less than three months. Once an expat becomes an official resident or gets a job in Switzerland, they sign up with a Swiss health insurance company.