In every EU country the healthcare system and reciprocal agreements with regards medical treatment are different. In the UK we have an excellent healthcare system that is largely funded by the government but in other EU countries, you cannot necessarily expect the same. Even with a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you may be required to pay a co-payment. |
In Switzerland the system in made up of public, private and subsidised private care but the EHIC will only cover you for the public state funded healthcare. For private medical care you need to be covered by single trip or annual holiday insurance.
Accessing a GP in Switzerland
If you do not have annual holiday insurance or insurance of another kind and only have your EHIC, you need to access a state-funded GP to get the benefits of reduced healthcare costs. Some GPs work under both guises so make sure you are clear about what you require. If you have insurance, make sure that you keep all paperwork so that your application for a refund can be processed easily.
Remember that in Switzerland an EHIC card does not cover dentist treatment unless it was caused by serious illness or an accident. If you want to make sure you are covered for dental treatment too, be sure to invest in comprehensive single trip or annual holiday insurance.
What About Hospital Visits?
Any hospital visit in Switzerland requires a doctor’s referral unless of course it is an emergency. An EHIC entitles you to the benefits of reduced healthcare in a state-funded hospital but for real peace of mind, it is a good idea to organise holiday insurance.
Pharmacies in Switzerland work on the same basis as they do in the UK. A GP’s prescription entitles you to medicines and bandages at a reduced cost. Generic medicines, which are branded medicines with a different name, are subject to the deductible 10%, whereas branded medicines usually require you to pay a deductible 20%, if you choose it over a generic version.
Pharmacies have an out of hours service but you will have to pay extra for medicines that you purchase when using one. If you require medication at night or on the weekends dial 1818 and you will be able to locate your closest out of hours facility. Of course, with single trip or annual holiday insurance you may be able to have the cost of prescriptions reimbursed. You need to check your policy before you travel.
If you are planning to relocate to Switzerland and are considering relying on your annual holiday insurance to keep you covered, think again. Instead, you need to register with one of the state health insurance companies. These companies entitle you to reduced healthcare costs, although you will still be required to pay a monthly premium and a contribution for each treatment.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip and annual holiday insurance policies. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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