Reader question: Will my Swiss insurance cover me if I catch coronavirus abroad?

Reader question: Will my Swiss insurance cover me if I catch coronavirus abroad?
If you hospitalised abroad due to Covid, your care should be paid for. Photo by Anna Shvets / Pexels
Being ill is bad enough while you are at home, but getting infected with Covid-19 while in a foreign country makes the situation much worse. This is what you can expect from your insurance provider in Switzerland.

Everyone living in Switzerland is required to take out at least the basic health insurance coverage, the so-called KVG in German, and LaMal in French and Italian.

This insurance will pay for medical emergencies abroad, whether you have an accident, need urgent surgery, or —  as in the case of coronavirus — become ill and require immediate treatment.

If you do need urgent care while out of the country, you will have to notify your carrier by calling the number indicated on the back of your insurance card.

Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to insurance coverage, not all countries are created equal.

If you get sick in one of the EU or EFTA (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) nations, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) — that is, your regular Swiss insurance card — entitles you to receive the same paid services as someone who is insured in that country.

But if you are unfortunate enough to contract Covid and require hospitalisation while in the United States, where the cost of medical care is notoriously high, your LaMal coverage will not suffice to cover whatever costs you incur.

READ MORE: Should you buy supplemental health insurance in Switzerland?

That’s because the insurance will reimburse up to a maximum of twice what the same treatment would have cost in Switzerland.

If, however, you have a supplemental private insurance, your carrier will cover more costs. And if you took out additional health insurance to cover the cost of treatment abroad, it would pay for most (if not all) of the costs which are unrefunded by your main insurance.

Typically, you will have to pay for your medical care immediately. Then, when you return to Switzerland, send the documents you received from a foreign doctor or hospital to your insurance for a refund.

In order to be reimbursed, you will have to fill out a form (which is available either online or which your carrier will mail you), detailing the history of your illness or accident — how and where it happened, and what medical care you received.

Then send it back to the insurance company along with the invoice from the hospital, proof of payment, and medical records showing what tests, treatment, and medication you were given, and how much you were charged for each.

Make sure you have all this paperwork before you ask for a refund. If your documents are incomplete or an important piece is missing, the insurance may refuse to pay.

Relating specifically to coronavirus, you will also need a written certificate from a foreign health authority stating that you are fully recovered and able to travel.

And, at least for the time being, you must have a negative Covid test to come back to Switzerland.

Reader question: What documents do I need to enter Switzerland?

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