The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides a fantastic service that allows citizens of European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, to make use of the public health care facilities of fellow member countries, either free of charge or at a reduced rate. This includes treating pre-existing conditions, as well as any emergency care that could be required when you are on your travels. It is important to remember that Europe is an extremely diverse continent, and as such health care varies greatly from country to country. It is important to understand what services are available to you before you travel to any of these countries, especially if you have a pre-existing condition or some sort of ongoing care.
Although Switzerland is not a member of the EEA it is largely treated as such, and is a participating EHIC state. Switzerland is an incredibly forward thinking country, and this quality is carried over into their extensive health care programme. The Swiss health system is based on the principle of general health promotion, and encouraging people to take responsibility for their own well-being. This does not mean that people are expected to treat themselves, but rather that they should educate themselves on any relevant health risks, and seek the correct medical assistance wherever possible.
Valid EHIC card holders will have access to state-provided facilities within Switzerland, but there is usually a reduced rate to pay. There are exemptions to these costs, including maternity care.
There are over 300 hospitals of note in Switzerland, including some of the most respected and historically significant institutions in the world. These hospitals are of an extremely high standard, as with most things in Switzerland, so you can rest assured that you will be in good hands in the event of an emergency. Although Switzerland is approximately 70% covered with mountains, it has a great transport infrastructure, so getting medical attention should only be an issue in the most remote and hostile areas. Add to this the fact that Switzerland is an extremely compact country, and you are never really very far at all from top quality health care. It is also comforting to know that the vast majority of Swiss citizens, in particular those in distinguished professions or the tourist trade, speak very good English. In fact, when visiting Switzerland, you will find that English can get you by most of the time, especially in the cities. This means that you should have no problem conveying your medical needs to any relevant medical professionals.
Don’t travel to Switzerland without a valid EHIC. Switzerland is not known as one of the cheapest countries for tourists, so you don’t want add large medical bills to your list of expenses.
Switzerland is a truly beautiful country that everybody should experience in their lifetime. From the extravagance of Geneva, and the beautiful, historic feel of the nation’s capital, Bern, to the dizzying heights of the majestic Alps, Switzerland is a superbly diverse and wonderful place to be. The Swiss are also an extremely friendly and welcoming bunch. So, what are you waiting for?