Switzerland has one of the most renowned healthcare systems in the world. The country spends almost 10 percent of its GDP on public healthcare. The results of such an initiative are apparent in the form of high life expectancies and low death rates, top-notch hospital arrangements, superior medical infrastructure and internationally acclaimed medical research laboratories with path-breaking technology.
General health and hygiene standards in Switzerland are noticeably very high and you needn’t worry about contracting any viral or bacterial infections, unless you decide to camp in the mountains without adequate protection. You are nevertheless, advised to get booster shots from DPT, MMR and hepatitis B (including others that may be applicable). Switzerland is one of the few European countries to be declared free from rabies. You also won’t find any food or water related problems while here.
Mandatory Health Insurance
The exceptionally medical facilities in Switzerland come at a price – very expensive and mandatory healthcare insurance for Swiss nationals and expats alike. Expats have a grace time of three months, within which they must get insured with deductibles ranging from 300 CHF to 2500 CHF. Note that the general insurance does not cover dental care. Dental care insurance must be separately arranged, which could amount to 1000 CHF and more.
No insurance provider will turn you down for insurance. However, you are required to fill a form and undergo medical tests to see how much monthly premium you are qualified for. In spite of having an insurance cover, you are required to bear 10% medical and pharmacy expenses. In case of pregnancy, you are exempted from the surcharges and the insurance policy will cover all your hospital bills (applicable only if you choose public health care centres).
International insurances usually do not cover medical expenses in Switzerland. Even if they do, the Swiss Government does not recognize them. You should buy healthcare insurance if you plan to stay here for a long time.
Doctors and Pharmacies
You are free to choose any doctor or dentist you want. However, if you stick to one particular doctor, you get cheaper insurance. Further discounts are available if you agree to call a central doctors phone line for consultation before rushing to your nearest physician.
Every city and town, even the remote villages on the hills have pharmacies, hospitals and public health care services that operate 24 hours a day. Most pharmacies sell expensive medications and you might consider getting a few prescription pills from your home country if they are available at cheaper rates.
You may want to look at [this online hospital directory] www.doktor.ch, [this online pharmacy directory] www.switzerland-pharmacy.ch and [this guide] www.local.ch/de for more information.
Private Health Care
Cities like Lucerne and Zurich have outstanding private health care centres that are obviously very costly but come with a lot of privileges. The Swiss general healthcare insurance however, does not cover any treatment or consultation in the private health care sector.
In case of emergencies, please dial 144 for ambulance services and 1414 for an air ambulance service.