Ambulance costs

1st May 2024

Posted by Dr Michelle Wright

As regular listeners may know, me and my team at HealthFirst deliver first aid training around both physical and mental health. 

Ambulance costs in Switzerland – have you got them covered? 

One of the questions we often get asked is about ambulance costs in Switzerland – how much does an ambulance cost, and what’s covered by health insurance. 

Well, the answer is it’s quite complex. 

Starting with cost, this varies from canton to canton, and it also depends on what care and treatment is needed for the patient. As a rule, you’re looking at anything between 700 and 2,100 CHF. And of course, costs increase if helicopter rescue and transportation is required.  

Who foots the bill for these vital services?

First things first – it depends on whether the ambulance call-out is due to an accident, or an illness, because the coverage varies depending on the cause. 

If it’s an accident and you’re employed and working more than 8 hours a week, you’ll be relieved to know that you’re 100% covered by your company or organisation’s accident insurance.  

Your employer is obliged to provide this insurance and it covers you for accidents both inside, and outside, the workplace.  

If you work for less than 8 hours a week, then your employer must provide insurance for accidents whilst at work, but this will also include your journey to and from work.  

If you’re not employed, or if you need an ambulance because of an illness rather than an accident, then your basic health insurance steps up to the plate.  

But it’s important to understand that this will only cover 50% of the costs, after subtracting the deductible and coinsurance. 

Also, there’s a cap on how much the basic insurance will cover: 500 CHF per year for transportation – usually via ambulance, or perhaps by helicopter, depending on what is deemed necessary – and 5000 CHF per year if rescue from a life-threatening situation is needed – for example after a mountaineering accident, or a heart attack whilst in the mountains – of course, rescue by helicopter is usually needed in this situation.  

Because of these limitations, many people choose to take out supplementary insurance to cover transportation and rescue and fill the gaps. So, if you want that extra peace of mind, it’s certainly worth considering. 

What about when you’re abroad?

Again, in case of accident, the employer’s accident insurance covers up to a maximum amount – do check your policy.  

And basic health insurance policies will cover a proportion of emergency transportation costs in case of an illness whilst abroad. This also applies to accidents if you have accident insurance via your basic insurance.  

But the situation isn’t the same for rescue costs: basic insurance policies don’t cover rescue costs abroad. And they also don’t cover repatriation.  

Again, ‘closing the gap’ when you’re travelling by taking out a supplementary travel insurance is important to consider.  

Hoping that this has helped unravel some of the ins and outs of ambulance callouts. My recommendation is definitely to check your insurance policies and make sure that you’re not going to be faced with any surprises. 

This has been Health Matters. My name is Dr Michelle Wright. Thank you for listening.    

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