In recent years Switzerland has become an attractive destination for Brits, and the number of people who take the leap to move here, either for a new job or to retire, has been steadily growing. So it’s no wonder more and more people try to find information on the Swiss health care system, which is why we’ve decided to compile a list of the most frequently asked questions, from how to obtain health insurance to where to find a doctor.
Let’s dive right in!
Q. Why is Swiss healthcare system considered to be among the best in the world?
A. Switzerland is world-famous for its quality medical services. Yet, a few people are familiar with the factors soaring the country to the Top 5. Firstly, healthcare has always been high on the political agenda, and the Swiss government makes huge investments in healthcare. Each year the country spends around 10-12% of its GDP on health care.
The huge investment in health care naturally brings us to the second factor, which places Switzerland highly on the list. The country boasts a large number of health centres and modern medical facilities, utilising the latest technology, so it’s no surprise healthcare is of high-class and universal. But unlike in many other European countries, it isn’t financed by employers or through taxes – it is being paid for by each individual.
Any person living in Switzerland, be it an expat or a resident, is obliged to get basic medical insurance to receive treatment and get access to healthcare under the same conditions as Swiss residents.
Q. Who can access healthcare in Switzerland?
A. All people living in Switzerland, including residents and non-residents. If you are planning to stay in the country for more than 3 months, you are obliged by law to obtain health insurance by a recognised health insurance provider. This can only happen after you have arrived in the country and have applied for a residence permit or registered with the local canton authority.
Q. Can you access free public healthcare in Switzerland?
A. No. Although Switzerland has one of the largest healthcare sectors in the world, public health insurance is not available. Basic healthcare can be purchased through private health insurance providers and must not be confused with free public health insurance.
You are free to decide whether to purchase a basic plan or supplementary insurance. There are over 60 government-authorised insurance companies, and you can choose which provider and plan you want to get.
Here’s what includes the mandatory (basic) healthcare package in Switzerland:
– all services provided by a doctor, including general check-ups and treatments
– hospital visits and costs
– medical transport and rescue
– vaccinations and maternity care
– dental emergencies
For a more detailed list you can visit the Swiss governement’s website here.
Q. Is Swiss health insurance expensive?
A. You don’t want to hear this, but yes, Swiss health care is expensive compared to many other European countries. The healthcare sector is overly competitive as it runs at a cantonal level, and there is a number of providers, so the price varies by canton, as well as by provider. Make sure to research the various options available in the canton you will be living before your actual to move to Switzerland. You can find a list of all authorised companies here.
To get an idea of the price of the basic insurance, visit the official website of the Swiss authorities here.
It’s worth mentioning that if you require treatment, you will need to cover part of the costs. You will receive a bill after your visit to the hospital or to the doctor, which you must pay within 30 days. Your health insurance company will then reimburse the costs based on the percentage covered by your plan.
Q. How do I sign up for medical insurance?
A. You can apply with an insurance company of your choice online or by visiting their office. The provider will send you an application and provide further information on all private supplementary plans if you want one. Once your application has been approved, the company will issue a medical card to be sent to you by post, and you will need to start paying a monthly premium to the insurance company.
Q. What will happen if you move to Switzerland after Brexit?
A. Switzerland and the UK have agreed that the health care access of British citizens will remain the same. This arrangement will continue until the end of 2020.
Q. Where can I find a list of health centers and clinics in my region?
A. Normally the private health insurance company you have signed up with can provide a list of doctors and dentists within their network. If you prefer searching on your own, here are a few useful directories:
Swiss Medical Association
More useful information and resources