The Swiss health care system is based on a wide network of general practitioners. Besides pharmacies, general practitioners are the first port of call when it comes to primary health care. In Switzerland, it is mandatory by law to take out a health insurance.

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Health care system

The Swiss health care system is predominantly based on general practitioners’ practices. Even in case of emergency, GPs are the most important contact points and will refer you on to specialists, if need be. Most of the GP practices have multilingual medical staff. Pharmacies, some of which have multilingual staff too, also offer information on basic medical care. In case of serious and life-threatening emergencies, it is strongly recommended that you go directly to a hospital. There are specialized paediatricians for the medical care of children.

Health insurance

Basic health insurance is compulsory for all residents of Switzerland. If you move to Switzerland from abroad, you have three months’ time to take out an insurance. Compulsory basic insurance schemes are offered by numerous private health insurance companies. 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 opt for various types of voluntary supplementary insurance. These cover services and benefits that are not, or only partially, covered by basic insurance.

Premium reduction

Persons with a low income may apply to the Social Insurance Agency (SVA) of Zurich for a premium reduction of the compulsory basic insurance. The SVA will also provide further information on premium reductions.

Accident insurance

If you are employed, you are insured by your employer against accidents occurring during work and leisure time, provided that 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 take out your own accident insurance. As part of their compulsory health insurance, self-employed persons as well as unemployed or inactive persons are also obliged to take out their own accident insurance.


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