About Emergency Services in Switzerland
As Switzerland is a non EU country it has a slightly different healthcare service that is a combination of public, subsidised private and fully private systems. It is renowned throughout Europe for it's high quality medical services.
How the system works
European visitors should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which enables them to access the state provided healthcare in Switzerland at a reduced cost.
Non EU visitors are not covered in Switzerland unless they are a stateless person or a refugee. Therefore, private health and travel insurance is essential.
If you need an ambulance then you can call 144 free of charge from any phone. Ambulance services will only transport the patient, so any friends or family members would need to make their own way to the hospital. You will need to pay some of the cost of the ambulance yourself, so it is better to only call an ambulance if the patient is not in a fit state to go by car, taxi or bus.
Medicines and other treatments prescribed by a doctor can be obtained from any pharmacy. In Switzerland pharmacies have an out-of-hours service at weekends and at night - you can find out which pharmacy near you is open after hours by dialling 1818. Information is given in German, French, Italian and English.
Paying for treatment
You will not be covered for private treatment with your EHIC, so make sure you are treated by a state-funded healthcare provider. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.
Note: you will pay extra to buy medicines at an out-of-hours pharmacy.
You may be asked to pay your medical bills upfront and then claim a refund using your EHIC. You should always try to apply for your refund before you return home.
For information on reimbursement of costs in Switzerland, download the KVG information leaflets.
Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for a refund or reimbursement.
You will not be eligible for a refund if you have been treated privately.
Who to call & when
- Emergency number and to call an ambulance: 144
- Swiss rescue: 1414
- Fire department: 118
- Police: 117