Swiss residents able to seek medical treatment abroad under Swiss basic health insurance

 

From 2018 Swiss residents living in certain cantons bordering other countries will be able to seek medical treatment abroad under Swiss basic health insurance.

The Federal Council revised rules regarding Switzerland’s compulsory basic medical insurance (LaMal) to strengthen international collaboration. Swiss basic health insurance is compulsory for every resident of Switzerland.

Since 2006 a pilot project in two Swiss regions has allowed residents to seek treatment over the border, knowing that their Swiss health insurance will cover the cost under the same rules as apply in Switzerland. Residents of Basel have been able to seek treatment in Lörrach, Germany, while those in St-Gallen can head to Liechtenstein.

Those pilot schemes will now be authorized long-term, while other border cantons including Geneva will be allowed to apply for authorisation to establish something similar. The application must include a list of foreign practitioners who can supply the basic medical services covered by LaMal.

Only people living in authorized cantons and insured with a participating Swiss insurance company can take advantage of cross-border medical treatment.

From 2018 LaMal will cover the costs of outpatient treatment anywhere in Switzerland, not just in the insured person’s canton. Previously LaMal only covered the cost of the equivalent treatment in the canton of residence or work, with the insured person paying the difference if treatment is more expensive elsewhere.

Though the country is widely considered to have a high standard of healthcare, it is expensive, often far more so than elsewhere in Europe.

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