Healthcare in Switzerland

Switzerland is a country known for its efficiency and high standard of living, so it’s no surprise that the local healthcare system is renowned as one of the best in the world. The system is administered by each state of the Swiss confederation, known as a canton, and is a seamless combination of the public and private sectors.

There is no free healthcare in Switzerland and individual private health insurance is compulsory for all residents. Both public and private healthcare in Switzerland is excellent. Facilities are clean and well equipped, waiting times are usually short, and medical professionals often speak English.

International Healthcare Solutions For Private Individuals

Healthcare plans designed specifically for expatriates and local nationals living in Switzerland.

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.

Most healthcare providers in Switzerland are private establishments and have world-class standards. Thanks to the basic health insurance policy, expats in Switzerland will have access to high quality healthcare, but not all medical issues are covered. Except for emergency treatment, dental care is not covered, and many choose to pay for extra dental coverage in their health insurance policies.

International health insurance usually provides access to a wider choice of healthcare professionals, as some basic policies are limited to certain doctors and hospitals. Basic insurance only allows access to the general wards of a hospital; those who prefer a private room will either have to pay for it themselves or rely on private insurance.

Pharmacies in Switzerland, known as apotheke or pharmacie depending on the area, are easily found in most towns and city centres. They generally operate from 9am to 5pm and are closed for an hour around lunchtime and all day on Sundays. Expats who need to find medication outside of normal hours can access an emergency pharmacy.

Branded medicine tends to cost more so it’s recommended that expats ask the pharmacist for a generic version of the medication.

Ambulance services are not fully covered by the basic Swiss health insurance, and expats can avoid a surprise bill by taking note of this. Most hospitals have accident and emergency departments, and having proof of medical insurance on one’s person at all times is strongly recommended. An ambulance can be reached by calling 144 or the general European emergency number, 112.
Our plans created in partnership with local provider KPT and Allianz Global Assistance, are designed for global organisations with staff based inside and outside Switzerland.