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Healthcare & Medical Treatment

Zurich - Healthcare & Medical Treatment

Important Phone Numbers:

Police (Polizeinotruf) 117

Fire (Feuermeldestelle) 118

Emergency Medical Assistance 144

Call 044 421 21 21 for English-speaking 24-hour referral service that provides medical advice and house calls daily.

For urgent outpatient medical care without prior appointment in the city center, there is a private medical station located in Zurich's main train station (Zurich Hauptbahnhof). The medical center is open daily 7am to 11pm and is located at Bahnhofplatz 15, 8001 Zurich. Tel: 044 215 44 44. Website: www.permanence.ch. SOS-Aerzte are medical specialists that are on standby 24 hours daily for emergencies. SOS-Aerzte is located in Neumuehlequai 38, 8006 Zurich. Tel: 044 360 44 44. The medical specialists can also provide medical consultation and examination, and organizes repatriation in collaboration with insurance companies.

The Samaritans (Tel: 143) provide free counseling service in English.

Expatriates can expect to enjoy top quality healthcare services in Zurich – most doctors (Aerzte) and dentists (Zahnärzte) speak English, and you can expect their offices to be equipped with modern medical facilities. Alternative medicine practices, such as Homeopathy (Homöopathie) are popular in Switzerland. For a list of doctors, you can refer to the telephone directory under “Aerzte". General practitioners or family doctors are listed under “Allegemeine Medizin" in the telephone directory. Alternatively, you can try this website at www.medindex.ch.

Switzerland's progressive medical universities are staffed by highly qualified doctors, who in turn are supported by well-trained nursing staff. All these factors, and the availability of advanced healthcare infrastructure, contribute to the high standards of Swiss healthcare. The Swiss healthcare system is the most expensive healthcare system after the US.

There are three types of hospital accommodations – ward (allgemein), semi-private (halb-privat) and private (privat). A ward has multiple beds (4-8) in one room, a semi-private has two beds, and a private room has one bed. All city and canton public hospitals have all three types. Most private hospitals have only semi-private or private accommodation. The contact details and location of these hospitals is available here.

An Apotheke is a pharmacy that is owned and managed by a professional pharmacist (has a university degree in pharmacy). Hence, pharmacists in apothekes can fill prescriptions and advice on the use (and abuse) of medications, and can issue medications in emergencies. Pharmacists can also treat minor cuts, take blood pressure and give advice for minor health problems. A Drogerie (drugstore) is a general drugstore. A druggist cannot fill prescriptions, but can offer some non-prescription advice, such as health foods and supplements. A drogerie stocks non-prescriptive medications such as cough syrups, vitamins, herbal teas, antacids, cold medicines and other homeopathic medicines and remedies.

For expectant expatriates, there is an excellent summary of resources for expectant mothers and parents, from childbirth options, to childcare, children classes and activities, and resources for finding schools and other needs. Click here to visit the website.

When applying for your residence permit, it is mandatory for all foreigners who take up residency in Switzerland to be insured with a Swiss Insurance company for basic healthcare services. The basic or standard benefits of all insurance companies are the same, but the premiums to be paid differ, depending on the age of the insurer, the health insurance company, and the place of residence. Once you are insured with a particular company, you can change insurers, but only during a certain time of the year (usually at the end of the year), or incur heavy penalties. To compare premiums and insurance coverage offered by different insurance companies, click here. Information and feedback on 53 major hospitals located in Switzerland (of which four are located in Zurich) are also available at the website.

While it is the norm for the family doctor to refer you to a specialist, some expatriates make appointments directly with specialists, depending on the nature of their health insurance. The Swiss Medical Tariff Commission regulates the tariffs charged by doctors. Dentistry is usually not covered by health insurance, and most expatriates will prudently ask for an estimate cost of the work to the done before making a decision. Even though there is private medical insurance, you should note that you are expected to settle your medical bills first, before making claims with your respective insurance companies.

Most doctors in the private practice work by appointment and have specific operating hours. Their practices are usually individual ones and there are few partnerships or group clinics. Many also practice taking a specific day off each week. When you request for advice from a doctor over the telephone, take note that you can be billed for that telephone consultation.

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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.


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