The Swiss healthcare system includes both public and private healthcare services. A health insurance fund in Switzerland is an organization that provides health insurance under the compulsory health insurance system (KVG). The health insurance funds are non-profit organizations and have to be recognised by the Federal Department of Home Affairs. They are able to offer top-up insurance to complement the basic insurance if they wish.
The compulsory health insurance under the Health Insurance Law (KVG) ensures that everyone has access to high-quality, comprehensive health care. It offers the same range of services and benefits to all insured people. The top-up insurance is voluntary and covers a higher level of amenities (e.g. care in a semi-private or private ward in hospital) or additional services and benefits (treatment by naturopaths, routine dental treatment etc.).
You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), when you are temporarily staying in Switzerland. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay. If your illness requires regular treatment while you are temporarily staying abroad, agree with the treatment provider beforehand on the arrangement of treatment. Treatments that need to be arranged in advance include, for example, dialysis, oxygen therapy, specialised care of asthma and chemotherapy as well as echocardiography in chronic autoimmune diseases.
You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. It is advisable to carry copies of your European Health Insurance Card with you, along with the card itself. If you didn’t have your EHIC with you or it was not accepted, and you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
In Switzerland, clients of local public healthcare are charged a fixed deductible fee. If the accrued costs are lower than the fixed deductible fee, the amount of payment will be determined on the basis of the actual costs. The fee will be paid to Switzerland’s common health insurance institute, Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG. The GE KVG website contains comprehensive information also in English.
Make an appointment with a general practitioner who has an agreement with the Swiss health insurance system (most doctors do). At the reception, show your valid European Health Insurance Card and your identity card. Different cantons (Switzerland has 26 cantons) have their own practices concerning the payment of doctor’s fees. In some regions, you must first pay for the treatment yourself and then apply for partial reimbursement from GE KVG on the basis of the receipts. In other regions, your treatment costs will be directly charged from the health insurance institute and you will only be liable for the deductible. Treatment charges vary according to the legislation in the canton.
You can see a specialist after receiving a referral from a general practitioner.
As a rule, you must bear any dentist costs yourself. GE KVG will only reimburse you for dentist costs when the need for treatment is due to an accident or a severe disease in the organs of occlusion. The payment procedure is similar to the other doctors.
Show your European Health Insurance Card and identity card in addition to the prescription when collecting your prescribed medicines at a pharmacy in Switzerland. This will entitle you to partial reimbursement for your medicines.
Hospital treatment is available with a referral from a general practitioner or specialist.
In case of urgent attacks of illness, you can go straight to the first aid of a hospital. Show your European Health Insurance Card and your identity card and request treatment paid by GE KVG on the public side of the hospital. In addition to the deductible, all patients over the age of 26 will be charged a fixed daily fee for hospital treatment.
In Switzerland, hospitals will typically have both public and private patients. When seeking treatment as a private patient, you will be liable for the cost difference. GE KVG will only offer reimbursement for the costs of similar treatment on the public side.
Ambulance transport is reimbursed by 50 %, but there is a yearly ceiling for reimbursement. Rescue services (helicopters) are also reimbursed by 50 % up to a yearly ceiling. Apply for reimbursement from GE KVG.
If your state of health requires you to use special transport when returning to Finland, you will be liable for the travel costs in their entirety.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish to travel to Switzerland for the purpose of using healthcare services, you can find general information on our site concerning seeking treatment abroad. Some useful sources of information are also listed below.
Quality and safety of treatment
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider. The Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG in Switzerland can help you with finding the right authority if you wish to make a complaint.