There are more than 280 hospitals in Switzerland that are divided among the 26 counties (cantons). Swiss hospitals provide high standards of medical care, especially in trauma surgery and post-surgery care, not just to residents of Switzerland but also to hundreds of medical tourists each year. Most hospitals are located in larger Swiss cities, with most patients being sent to hospitals by the emergency services.
Who pays for healthcare in Switzerland?
All healthcare in Switzerland is paid for by health insurance. The system is semi-private, with only some public funding for healthcare, such as for claimants of Swiss social security - although if you are claiming social security you still need to purchase it. Through your health insurance, you are able to choose what level of medical care you will receive. This includes what type of ward you will stay in and whether you will be able to select your own doctor.
Types of hospital care in Switzerland
Swiss hospitals are all privately run. They are funded by payments made by patients or through health insurance. While all offer a high standard of care, each hospital has its own specialisms. The type of care you receive and the facilities on offer depend on your insurance policy.
General admission in Swiss hospitals
General wards in Swiss hospitals are facilities that are shared between patients. This usually involves two to four patients sharing accommodation while in hospital. This is the basic level of care which must be provided to all patients with basic health insurance. This level rarely offers the opportunity to choose your own doctor or where you can go for treatment unless requested as part of your insurance package.
Semi-private admission for hospitals in Switzerland
Semi-private care means you share your accommodation with one other person while in hospital. This level of care is more expensive than general admission and must be specified when applying for supplemental health insurance. At this level, it is likely that you will be able to choose your doctor and place of treatment.
Private admissions for Swiss hospitals
The highest level of care that you can receive in Switzerland is private admission to hospitals. At this level, you will receive a private room and be able to choose which doctor treats you. With private admission, you may also have access to other benefits, such as a larger selection of meals and wellness facilities.
How do I access hospital care in Switzerland?
You are only able to receive treatment at a Swiss hospital on referral from your general practitioner unless it is a medical emergency.
Emergency care in Swiss hospitals
If you require emergency care or have arrived through the emergency services such as by ambulance or helicopter, you will be able to receive care immediately at the hospital you are admitted to. During the admission, you will be asked for details regarding your health insurance, although they will not refuse care if you do not have your health insurance card to hand.
Visiting someone in hospital in Switzerland
Swiss hospitals allow visits from your close family. Typically, hospitals allow for visits between 9am and 6pm so long as they are informed by you or a family member that they are coming. You are not allowed visitors if you are due to receive surgery or have had surgery in the past few hours. Additionally, you are unable to receive visitors if your condition is highly contagious (such as COVID-19). Rules on this vary so do check ahead with the hospital before planning a visit.
Visiting Swiss hospitals without health insurance
People who are on holiday can access emergency care while visiting. The cost of emergency treatment should be covered by your travel insurance. If you are visiting Switzerland with the intention of receiving medical treatment, you must declare this on your visa application. If you do not have insurance, you will be asked to pay for your medical expenses.