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Healthcare in Switzerland: Information for International Students

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If you are thinking about moving to Switzerland for studying, you should know that besides accommodation and university, you should also be well informed about healthcare. It can be very expensive and it depends on how long you will be willing to stay and from which country do you come from.

In the next lines you will get all the information you need about health insurance and healthcare in this country.

Health Insurance

Switzerland appears to have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, but it is slightly different from that of the other European countries. First of all, if you are going to stay in Switzerland for more than three months, than you have to make sure to be covered by health insurance. But there are a few exceptions to that. After your arrival, you have three months to:

  • Apply for an exemption if you are a student coming from EU/EFTA country. In fact, if you come from these countries you are entitled to receive medical treatment in Switzerland upon presentation of your European Health Insurance Card.
  • If you come from non EU/EFTA countries, you can request an exemption from a compulsory Swiss health insurance provided that you have private cover from your country, equivalent to that provided under a Swiss policy.
  • Otherwise, you must get a regular Swiss health insurance plan, the so called KVG. It is mandatory to get this or an equivalent coverage.

The last option is probably the best if you are coming from outside the EU. KVG stands for Krankenversicherungsgesetz, the law that determines the basic health insurance benefits. Its formulation ensures that all health insurance companies offer identical basic health coverage. The coverage offered by this kind of health insurance is usually enough for young and healthy people, and therefore suitable for students. The monthly premiums vary between approximately 80 CHF and 350 CHF according to age. It’s important to say that the basic coverage do not cover dental care, that can be extremely expensive in Switzerland.

In Case of Illness

In case you feel bad, but your condition is not severe, you may go to a pharmacy. There they can often diagnose your problem and sell you the appropriate medication. In case you have a more serious medical problem you can go to the doctor that can redirect you to a specialist if you need one. To find a doctor in your area you can check here. In case of emergency for severe illnesses or life-threatening conditions, you can call an ambulance (144) or go to the nearest hospital with an emergency department. If you need non-emergency hospital treatment you will need to be referred by your doctor. If you are unsure whether a treatment is covered by your health insurance, just ask the insurance company itself.

Billing Procedure

After going to the doctor, the bill will be given to you personally or sent to your address, together with a reimbursement certificate. You must pay the bill within 30 days and send the reimbursement certificate to your insurance company. The insurance company will reimburse the amount directly into your account. Hospitals, and sometimes doctors, send their bills directly to your health insurance company.

Healthcare Matters

Often left for the last one to take care of, healthcare is actually the most important one. Without proper healthcare in cases of illness or accidents, you cannot pursue your study anymore and you will be incapable of doing anything else. It stands by law and also is in your interest to have a proper care, because nobody knows what lies ahead in future. One day we are healthy, and the next day just one second is sometimes enough to turn our world upside down. Bureaucracy frightens students most, but taking care of your health should be a good motivation to overcome any initial difficulty. Do not forget to apply for an insurance or exemption during the first three months of stay, because if you don’t do so, you will be assigned a health insurance plan by the authorities. This can be very expensive. We hope that you will find our tips useful and that we may contribute to help you stay healthy.