11 December 2014 by Anna Staford
Whether you’re a native Swiss or an expat planning to stay in the country, there is no denying that the hospitals and healthcare in Switzerland can arguably be called the best system in the world. The healthcare system in the country ensures that everyone – poor, rich, native, foreign, private employee or government worker – all have sufficient health insurance.
The moment you land in Switzerland you will learn that everyone is required to have health insurance. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expat – all foreign residents are also required to have health insurance. This means that everyone is covered for the most basic healthcare requirements. There are no exceptions to this law.
The big defining factor here is that the only insurance system strongly implemented is from the private sector. In the United States, a person can get insurance from the government or from their employer. In Switzerland you have to buy insurance on your own, from a private healthcare provider.
One good thing from that little fact is that Swiss law makes it mandatory for all companies to accept healthcare applications. Healthcare providers are not allowed to deny someone insurance benefits. This means you simply have to pick whichever offer is cheaper for you.
There are a lot of good things at work here. For one, it means everyone has basic healthcare coverage, no matter who they are, whether they are employed or not. The downside is that some providers charge a lot of money when the fact is the basic benefits are, by law, the same across the country.
Insurance companies are divided by local districts, or cantons. Each canton has their set of providers and it is mandated for you to choose a policy from one in your area. From there you pick your choice of doctors.
Just remember that the basic coverage doesn’t cover eye care and dental care.
Unless it is an emergency situation, you won’t be able to just check into a hospital in Switzerland. You will need to be referred by the doctor included in your health insurance plan.
For the initial payments you’ll need to pay the hospital a certain percentage in cash. The insurance provider will then reimburse you and then take care of the rest. If the insurance plan doesn’t cover things like a private room and select medications, you’ll have to pay these out of your own pocket if you want, or get a higher grade insurance plan.
You’d think that mandatory private healthcare insurance is expensive but in the case of Switzerland, you’ll only be paying a few dozen US dollars more than the average basic insurance plan in the United States. The prices might be the same but the benefits in Switzerland are so much better – even the most basic coverage takes care of clinical expenses, maternity expenses, and illness costs. As mentioned above, everyone is mandated to have insurance but expats are given a three-month window to register upon their arrival.