All long-term residents in Switzerland who have obtained the obligatory health insurance can see a general practitioner in case of medical problems. Unlike in some countries, it is not necessary to register with a doctor. However, some restrictions on doctor choice can occur depending on your policy, which is usually the case with less comprehensive policies.
The majority of Swiss doctors operate by appointment only and they can provide prescriptions, consultations, treatments, or refer you to a specialist or hospital treatment if needed. Prior to your appointment, you will need to present your health insurance card or other proof of private health insurance. Waiting times are minimal and most doctors in Switzerland speak English.
The costs of seeing a general practitioner are mostly covered by your health insurance policy, but you will need to pay other costs and fees as well.
Apart from the ‘excess’ fees which range between CHF 300 and CHF 2,500 per year depending on the premium, there is a cost of minimum a 10% of the consultation or treatment costs. After receiving the bill, the patient needs to pay it within 30 days. The usual agreement is that patients pay the full bill and then send the part of the bill called “Rückerstattungsbeleg” or “Rückerstattung Original für die Versicherung” to the insurance company for reimbursement.
Canceling an appointment with less than 24 hours’ notice may also lead to paying a cancellation fee.
How to find a general practitioner in Switzerland
There are several ways you can find a general practitioner in Switzerland:
- Swiss Medical Association – search by specialty, name, region or language
- Doktor.ch – search by area or specialty,
- Swiss Yellow Pages (search for (doktor/arzt/medicin/medico),
- Local embassies which are usually able to provide you with a list of recommended or English-speaking doctors in Switzerland.