The Swiss health care system is based on a wide network of general doctors. Besides pharmacies, general doctors are your first point of contact for basic health care services. There is no «free» public health care system in Switzerland and, a health inscurance policy is compulsory for all residents.
Health care system
The Swiss health care system is primarily based on a network of general doctors. Even in urgent cases, general doctors are important contact points and will refer you to a specialist if necessary. Most doctors' practices have medical staff who can speak more than one language. Pharmacies often have multilingual staff and offer information on basic medical care. For serious or life-threatening emergencies, it is strongly recommended that you go directly to a hospital. There are specialized paediatricians («Kinderärzte») for the medical care of children.
All residents of Switzerland must have basic health insurance («Krankenversicherung»). If you move to Switzerland from abroad, you must buy a health insurance policy within three months of arrival. Numerous private insurance companies offer basic compulsory insurance schemes («Grundversicherung»). It is worth comparing the services and premiums, as they may vary significantly depending on the health insurance company and the insurance scheme chosen. As the benefits of compulsory basic insurance are stipulated by law, they are the same irrespective of the insurance company.
In addition to compulsory basic insurance, you may also upgrade your policy to include supplementary insurance («Zusatzversicherungen») offering services and benefits that are not, or only partly, covered by basic insurance.
Persons with a low income may apply to the Canton of Zurich Social Insurance Agency («Sozialversicherungsanstalt/SVA») for a reduction of the basic compulsory insurance premium. The Social Insurance Agency provides further information and processes applications for premium reductions («Prämienverbilligung»).
If you are employed, you are insured by your employer against accidents occurring during work and leisure time if you work more than 8 hours per week. If you work less than 8 hours per week, you are not insured against accidents occurring during your leisure time, and must therefore, take out your own accident insurance («Unfallversicherung»). As part of their compulsory health insurance, self-employed persons as well as people without employment are also required to be covered for accidents.
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