health insurance travel abroad switzerland

Swiss Health Insurance: Protection While Traveling Abroad

Which healthcare costs are covered by Swiss health insurance policies when you travel outside of Switzerland? Get an overview here.

Before you travel outside of the country, it’s worth taking a look at your insurance setup. The risk of being hit with a medical emergency while traveling is very real. Whether you’re vacationing on the beach, touring cities or trekking across a far-flung wilderness, accidents or health issues can occur.

Being covered while traveling abroad is essential

Depending on the nature of accidents or illnesses and the country in which you find yourself when they hit, the costs of getting proper medical care can be astronomical. Making sure you are adequately covered before you leave on your trip is a must. Special health insurance terms and conditions govern policies for Swiss who live abroad, or stay outside of Switzerland for longer than one year.

Medical emergencies outside of Switzerland: What does your obligatory health insurance policy cover?

  • If a medical emergency occurs while you are traveling outside of Switzerland, your obligatory health insurance policy will cover the costs up to a maximum of double the cost of treatment in your canton of residence.
     
  • Medical expenses incurred in an EU or EFTA country due to illness, accidents or maternity will be compensated by your obligatory health insurance as long as you carry your European health insurance card with you. Your out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the country in which you receive treatment. Payment of medical expenses in EU countries will be settled in Switzerland.
     
  • It is very important to carry your European health insurance card with you when you travel outside of Switzerland. You receive this card from your health insurance company. It includes your date of birth, insurance number, AHV number and details about your health insurance, among other information. If your card is lost or stolen, you can request a new one.
     
  • The international coverage you get from your obligatory health insurance policy is sufficient to cover medical treatment in most countries outside of the EU and EFTA. However, if you receive treatment in a country where healthcare costs are very high, such as the United States, Australia, Japan, Russia, Canada or New Zealand, the coverage you get from your basic policy may not be enough to cover all expenses.

Medical emergencies abroad: What is covered by supplementary outpatient insurance?

  • The outpatient insurance coverage offered by Swiss insurance companies usually provides better protection for healthcare expenses abroad. But you have to pay an additional premium of you want this optional coverage. If you want to be insured against the cost of treatment for medical emergencies in non-EU or EFTA countries, medical transportation abroad and repatriation to Switzerland, getting supplementary outpatient insurance might be worth it.
     
  • A supplementary insurance comparison is recommended, because there are major differences in the benefits provided by different insurance policies. Select “medical costs abroad” in the “Requested services” field to get relevant results. You can sort comparison results using the “Sort by” dropdown at the top of the list.
     
  • Not all supplementary insurance policies provide unlimited coverage for medical expenses. Some outpatient insurance policies only pay a set percentage of hospital or doctor bills. Others place a cap on the maximum coverage they provide (6000 francs per incident or 100,000 francs per year, for example) or the number of days they will cover (30 days of treatment per incident, for example). Choose a policy that gives you unlimited coverage or very high limits, if possible.
     
  • Policies which offer good coverage for medical treatment abroad include Helsana Top and Helsana Completa (full coverage), Swica Completa Top (full coverage), CSS myFlex (90% of outpatient costs, 100% of inpatient costs), Atupri Mivita (up to CHF 200,000 coverage per year), Concordia Diversa Plus (90% of outpatient insurance costs, up to 60 days of inpatient coverage).
     
  • Not all policies provide unlimited coverage for repatriation, or transporting your back to Switzerland in the event of a medical emergency. Some limit coverage to several thousand francs. Consider that an evacuation by helicopter or air ambulance might be necessary, and these can be very expensive. Get more information on rescue and emergency transportation here.
     
  • Besides outpatient insurance, you can also get supplementary hospital insurance or travel insurance policies which cover medical expenses abroad. Getting multiple policies with overlapping coverage is not worth it. Choose the optional insurance that best suits your needs.
     
  • Most travel insurance policies cover (part of) the cost of search, rescue and repatriation operations, even those which aren’t issued by a health insurance company. Some travel insurance policies even cover medical expenses abroad. Here too: doubling up on health insurance coverage is not worth it.
     
  • If you only travel outside of Switzerland occasionally (once a year, for example), taking out a short-term travel insurance policy from a health or travel insurance provider can be a better and more affordable option. Costs average 20 to 40 francs per adult for a two-week trip.
     
  • Important: If for any reason you have to receive medical care abroad, always inform your health insurance provider as soon as possible. If you fail to report the incident in a timely manner, your insurer might not cover the costs.

Your moneyland.ch team

More information:
Emergency transport, search and rescue: insurance
Swiss health insurance: compare now
Supplemental (outpatient) health insurance: compare premiums and services
Supplementary hospital insurance: compare premiums and services
Travel insurance: compare premiums and services
Don't pay double on insurance

About Moneyland Magazine

The moneyland.ch magazine provides accurate, unbiased information on topics related to finance and money. In addition to research and expert interviews, the magazine contains numerous financial guides.