Switzerland is known throughout Europe for its high-quality medical and paramedic services, and healthcare is always high on the political agenda.
The country spends more than 10 percent of its GDP on health, placing Switzerland near the top of OECD countries for medical expenditure. This considerable investment means that the country possesses a wealth of medical facilities employing the latest technology, as well as one of the world’s lowest patient-to-doctor ratio (and a high ratio of well-trained nurses to doctors).
This high level of healthcare in Switzerland comes at a price. Everyone living in the country is required to have basic health insurance (Soziale Krankenversicherung / Assurance maladie / Assicurazione-Mallatie). Non-Swiss nationals must obtain health insurance within the first three months of their arrival in Switzerland and babies must be insured within three months of birth. International Civil Servants, members of permanent missions and their family members are exempted from this compulsory health insurance. Individuals are responsible for contacting insurance providers, since employers do not necessarily arrange for coverage. Several public and private insurance companies are available, but it is usually necessary to register with one of the state-run Swiss insurance companies. In many cases, Swiss insurance authorities do not accept global health insurance even if the policy states that it covers medical care in Switzerland.
Depending on the level of cover, an annual individual health insurance package can cost up to CHF 10,000. Basic cover is CHF 351.05 per month for an adult and CHF 84.03 for a child. For the basic plan, the insured pays up to 8% of their income. The insured person must also pay part of the cost of treatment: an annual excess of between CHF 300 to a maximum of CHF 2,500 and a charge of 10% of the cost above the excess up to CHF 700 per year. Reductions are often available through the employer, who may offer a group policy that offers discounted premiums. By law, an employer is obliged to insure all employees for accidents; costs are split between employee and employer.
Health and accident insurance for spouses and children is compulsory in Switzerland. Each household member should be insured individually, as family members are not automatically covered by one parent’s membership.
Visitors to Switzerland for three months or less may be covered by a reciprocal agreement between the home country and Switzerland, or by a private health insurance scheme; for example, Bupa International is a leading international expatriate health insurer with customers in over 190 countries.
In addition to its high level of public sector healthcare, Switzerland also possesses one of the world’s largest private healthcare sectors. Geneva and Zurich in particular draw international patients seeking health advice and treatment. These facilities are generally very costly and are usually not entirely covered by health and accident insurance. It is best to enquire prior to admission. Due to the international nature of this sector, most of the staff is English-speaking.
Before going directly to see a doctor, many Swiss people visit a pharmacist. Pharmacists are highly qualified and most speak English.
Pharmacies in Switzerland are clearly marked with a green cross. Although equivalents of all medicines can be obtained in Switzerland, it is advised to bring a supply of required medicines when relocating as they can be expensive.
Many medicines frequently found in supermarkets or considered ‘over the counter’ elsewhere are generally only available at the pharmacy. They can be purchased without prescription but must be requested. Doctors are often willing to write prescriptions for these medicines when they are used in the course of general treatment; the cost of these medicines is sometimes covered by the insurance provider.
Pharmacies are listed in the telephone directory, and even the smallest mountain villages usually have at least one. All-night pharmacies operate in most large towns and cities.
You should dial 144 for an ambulance, 117 for the police and 118 for the fire department. Depending on the gravity of the accident, you may wish to phone for an air ambulance (REGA) by dialling 1414, or +41 333 333 333 from a foreign mobile phone.
Below is our list of some notable hospitals in Switzerland.
Kantonsspital Aarau: www.ksa.ch
Universitätsklinik Balgrist: www.balgrist.ch
University Hospital Bern: www.inselspital.ch
Tiefenauspital Bern: tiefenau.spitalnetzbern.ch
Kantonsspital Graubünden: www.ksgr.ch
Spital Grabs: www.spitalgrabs.ch
Paracelsus Klinik: www.paracelsus.ch
Kantonsspital St.Gallen: www.kssg.ch
DE LA TOUR
Hôpital de la Tour: www.latour.ch
Spital Uster: www.spitaluster.ch
Spital Wil: www.srft.ch
Kantonsspital Winterthur: www.ksw.ch
Zuger Kantonsspital: www.zgks.ch
Stadtspital Waid: www.waidspital.ch
UniversitätsSpital Zurich: www.usz.ch
Bupa International health insurance: Find out more
How to apply for a residency or work permit in Switzerland for you and your family.
Information about renting property and obtaining a mortgage in Switzerland.
Information about the Swiss healthcare system, health insurance, pharmacies and emergency numbers.
Explaining Swiss currency, banknotes, credit cards and bureaux de change.