International healthcare, medical insurance in Zurich


Swiss citizens are required to buy universal health insurance from private insurance companies. This system permits access to a broad range of modern medical services and citizens are free to use any insurance company for the basic package, providing it is registered with the caisse-maladie or Krankenkasse and is approved by the Federal Act. Premiums are paid directly to the insurance company on a monthly basis.

Public Insurance

Health insurance is compulsory for all persons residing in Switzerland. New immigrants are required to acquire it within three months of taking up residence or being born in the country. International civil servants, members of permanent missions and their family members are exempted from compulsory health insurance. They can, however, apply to join the Swiss health insurance system, within six months of taking up residence in the country.

Health insurance covers the costs of medical treatment and hospitalization of the insured. However, the insured person pays part of the cost of treatment. This is done by:
An annual excess (or deductible, called the franchise), which ranges from CHF 300 to a maximum of CHF 2,500 as chosen by the insured person (premiums are adjusted accordingly)
A charge of 10 percent of the costs over and above the excess up to a stop-loss amount of CHF 700.
(Pregnant women are exempt from this charge.)

Public insurance does not allow for discrimination relating to age, sex or state of health for coverage. Although the level of premium can vary from one company to another, they must be identical within the same company for all insured persons of the same age group and region, regardless of sex or state of health. This does not apply to complementary insurance, where premiums are risk-based.

Private Insurance

Compulsory public insurance can be supplemented by private "complementary" insurance policies. These allow for greater or specialized coverage not covered by the basic insurance or to improve the standard of room and service in case of hospitalization. This can include dental treatment and private ward hospitalization which are not covered by the compulsory insurance.

Private insurance offers a greater range of services like dental care and greater benefits. This may be a private room in a hospital and general greater privacy.

The European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card allows access to medical assistance for EU citizens traveling to another Member State. It also expedites reimbursement of expenses.

    The European Health Insurance Card is issued to:
  • EU nationals
  • Nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Swiss nationals
  • Family members of the above, whatever their nationality
  • Nationals of other countries, who are covered by a social security system in one of the Member States of the EU, the EEA or Switzerland

The pocket-sized plastic card contains basic information such as the card holder's name and surname and date of birth, but no medical details. It is easy to use as it has a gold chip that contains complete medical history and records.

The card can be used at any kind of health service, like a general practitioner, a hospital or a pharmacy. When the need for health care arises, treatment will be provided according to the rules of that particular country (for example if health care is free of charge in that Member State, the visiting patient will also be entitled to free medical care when presenting his/her European Health Insurance Card). It is not permissible to use it if the patient intentionally decides to obtain medical treatment abroad.

Update 18/08/2011


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Expatriate health insurance in Switzerland

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