Living in Zurich?
Healthcare in Zurich
Immunizations and Health Tips
Living in Zurich exposes you to very few health risks. You should, however, make sure to get booster shots for all standard immunizations before moving to Switzerland. These immunizations include DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella). Doctors also recommend a vaccination for hepatitis B.
Unfortunately, the Alpine regions in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland are risk areas for tick-borne diseases. Ticks can transmit TBE (a form of encephalitis) and lyme disease. The former can be life-threatening; the latter may lead to chronic and painful health conditions if it’s not diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Therefore, if you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors during your time in Zurich, you should think about getting get vaccinated against TBE and know how to prevent tick bites and recognize related symptoms.
Zurich has a moderate alpine climate, with temperatures ranging between an average low of -4°C in winter and an average 21°C in summer. Depending on where you come from, this may be a bit cooler than what you are used to, so don’t forget to pack appropriate clothes for the local weather!
Medical Emergencies — Who to Call
In case that you should have an emergency during your time in Zurich, these are the important phone numbers:
- 112 (European-wide emergency number)
- 117 (police)
- 118 (fire)
- 144 (ambulance)
- 143 (mental health / crisis hotline)
- 145 (poison hotline)
By dialing 0800 33 66 55 (free), you can contact the medical services, with a doctor on duty for advice and house calls 24/7. If you simply need to pick up some over-the-counter medication outside official opening hours, call 0900 55 35 55 (1.50 CHR / minute) for information on all nearby pharmacies with after-hours service. In central Zurich, the Bellevue Apotheke (Theaterstrasse 14, near Bellevueplatz) is open around the clock, 365 days a year.
There’s little reason to worry about the language barrier when making emergency calls, as English is a mandatory foreign language in schools throughout Switzerland. Given that around 30 percent of all residents in Zurich are not Swiss-born, emergency staff should have some English skills for such situations.
Medical Services in Zurich
In the city of Zurich and the surrounding canton, there are many family doctors and medical specialists, as well as several public hospitals and private clinics. You can easily look up a doctor in the Doctor.ch online directory. The two biggest public clinics (Listenspitäler) in Zurich are the University Hospital Zurich and the Stadtspital Triemli.
Do You Need a Swiss Health Insurance?
In Switzerland, you are legally obliged to have health insurance. If you want to stay in the country for a short time only — e.g. as a business traveler on a Schengen visa — a travel insurance policy (worth 30,000 CHF or more) should suffice. However, if you live and work in Switzerland, you need medical insurance from a local provider.
Exemptions from this rule are possible in a few cases: for instance, foreign exchange students or employees of a diplomatic or consular mission may be excluded from mandatory Swiss healthcare. To enquire about exemptions, contact the Department of Health in the canton of Zurich.
You can find out more about Swiss health insurance options in our in-depth article on health insurance in Switzerland.
Local Health Insurance Payments
For Swiss health insurance cover, you pay the contributions out of your own pocket, and you need to insure all family members individually. No public health insurance provider may refuse you for a basic policy, regardless of your health or any preexisting conditions. However, if you’d like to have top-up insurance, you’ll need to fill out a questionnaire and/or undergo a medical check-up exam. Since basic insurance policies exclude, for example, dental care or treatment in private clinics, many people in Switzerland have additional medical insurance.
Even with a basic healthcare policy, you need to make co-payments. Adult patients have to pay up to 300 CHF per year as a standardized co-payment or deductible (Franchise). The insurance company only covers expenses of examinations, treatments, and prescription medication once costs go over this deductible, and even then, you’ll have to pay ten percent of the costs as well as daily contributions of 15 CHF for hospital stays. Usually, you pay medical bills from your own pocket and get reimbursed by the insurance company.
To compare various insurance providers in Switzerland, check out Comparis.ch.
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