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Health Service

Switzerland - Health Service

Health care in Switzerland is considered one of the best in the world. It is accessible for everybody and there is a vast choice of experienced specialists to choose from. On top of that, the majority of them speak English and there are almost no queues to get an appointment. The downsides are the costs.

Health and accident insurance in Switzerland is a must. If you are a EU citizen, in the first three months of your stay, you are allowed to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), otherwise you must have your own health insurance policy, travel insurance or a company healthcare plan. After three months (or actually, as soon you become a registered resident), you are obliged to get authorized Swiss health insurance, which will be paid by you in monthly fees, as opposed to insurance paid with taxes or by your employer. Authorized means you will be able to choose the insurer yourself, from public and private companies. There is not much difference between the two and in both the waiting time is relatively low. Each family member has to be insured separately, even small children, in the first three months after their birth. It is common that basic healthcare is supplemented by some private healthcare services. The average cost for an adult per month is around 400 CHF.

Hospitals in Switzerland are very high quality and considered to be among the best equipped in the world. They are called Krankenhaus / Spital / Hospital / Ospedale and are signed with a letter H on a white background. Doctors and staff will be most likely able to speak English, often to a very advanced level. Apart from in emergency situations, in which case you will want to visit an accident & emergency unit, you will need to obtain a referral from the doctor first. You will also be limited to the hospital noted in the referral, which will most likely be located in the same canton. If you have private health insurance in Switzerland, you can choose your own doctor and get a private room. If you only have basic Swiss health insurance, you will be covered for medical and nursing care and outpatient follow-up, although you will be asked to pay a fee per day towards these costs.

In emergency situations, the European emergency telephone line is available at 112, there is no charge and the operator should be able to speak English. Other important numbers are: 144 for an ambulance, 118 for the fire service, 117 for police and 1414 for the Swiss Rescue. The last one is organized by cooperation of private and public civilian and military partner organizations and its main purpose is to rescue people in occasions such as earthquakes or searches in the mountains. Emergency treatment is covered by basic health insurance and it’s up to you when it comes to the choice of a hospital. Most hospitals will have a twenty-four hour A&E or ER (Notaufnahme / d'urgence / pronto soccors), where you will be asked about your health insurance details.

Swiss people are leading the way when it comes to life expectancy, which shouldn’t come as any surprise considering their lifestyles. Excellent health care, good eating habits and high participation in sports are visible everywhere throughout the country. The statistics show that the most common things that lead to death in Switzerland are heart disease and cancer. Dementia among older citizens, is also fairly common. On the bright side, Swiss people have a very low obesity and diabetes index.

Smoking is usually prohibited indoors, but that can differ depending on the canton. Some parts of the country are home to many smokers and smoking in restaurants won’t be a surprise, while others, like Valais, tend to be strict about their non-smoking policies. The only exception are trains, where all the wagons are smoke free, and also offices. Outside spaces, such as terraces, café gardens, bus stops and train platforms are usually spaces where smoking is allowed. If you’re interested whether a particular place has a smoking or non-smoking policy, look for signs indicating whether smoking is allowed, which should be shown in the area. Ashtrays on tables also indicate that smoking is allowed.

Counselling in Switzerland is easily available for English speakers. Some counsellors host sessions through Skype or by telephone, so there is no need to limit yourself to someone in the place where you live. For more details on the subject and variety of therapists, go to the Swiss Association for Counselling.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.


Health is your number one priority. At Aviva we understand this, which is why we’re focused on helping you and your family access high quality healthcare at home or overseas. Our award winning medical insurance will help you get the treatment you need or simply provide guidance and advice wherever you are, 24/7.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.