Thursday, March 19, 2009

Swiss Doctor & Worldwide Health Insurance

Last week I finally made my first visit to the doctor since moving to Switzerland . I was terrified but told myself I was a "big girl" and could handle going alone.  I made the appointment online (more below about that) and showed up when expected. The building I walked into wasn't a collection of doctors sharing a waiting room and reception desk like typical doctor's in the US.   The building consisted of individual offices each with their own waiting and reception.

I walked in and said shyly, "Bonjour".

They immediately spoke English to me.

"You must be Tina"


"We got a request from HTH, just fill out this piece of paper and I'll be with you in 5 minutes."

The piece of paper was really basic and they didn't ask any medical history. It was just name, birthday, address, occupation, nationality, etc. Simple and easy. Not like in the US when you fill out 10 sheets about everything that has ever happened to you and sign all your rights away to sue. 

The doctor came and got me and then introduced me to the med school student who would be sitting in and observing. They both were really nice. I didn't have to sit on a piece of paper on a stiff bed. I sat in a chair, across his messy doctors desk, like a human being. He scribbled away as I talked about my ailments and he asked good questions. His handwriting was terrible. I guess it must a global thing that you can't read a word of what they write. He wrote a few presciptions down, and  I walked out, without paying ONE CENTINE. 

Easy, painless, and I picked up a flyer because he does house calls for urgent care! Can you imagine that! Not that I hoping to be sick, but I am glad I know how to take advantage. 

Side Note ~ In Geneva - you can call 022 322 20 20 for urgent medical care in your flat (not emergencies obviously) between 7 AM and 11 PM. 

Rob and I did a lot of research before I stopped my job in the US about finding healthcare to cover us here in Switzerland. We finally settled on HTH Worldwide. They mostly do healthcare plans for students traveling abroad and and for larger groups such as business that employ expats all over the globe. All the paperwork to sign up was online and the customer service on the phone was SUPERB! I have never had an insurance company be so nice. I made my doctor's appointment online and they called the several doctors offices to schedule an appointment for me. They found one that was available and set the date with the constraints I gave them. I didn't have to deal with any French receptionists!

We settled on HTH for one VERY BIG REASON. It complies with continuous coverage under the HIPAA law of 1996. This law requires you to have continuous health coverage for 12 months or your next employer's health insurance could turn you down if they knew of a serious condition.  Lots of foreign health insurances (including Switzerland's and CERN's) do not comply under the HIPAA and do not count as continuous coverage. Don't take my word for it, read up for yourselves. I am not an expert, but this is what we learned with our research.  We are just trying our best to cover our butts in case of serious medical conditions occur while we are here. 

I don't expect to go back to the doctor before I leave, but its always nice to have met one in person.


Amanda March 19, 2009 at 1:55 PM  

Gulp. We have Swiss health insurance. Do you know how I can find out of my company is recognized as providing "continuous coverage"?

Derek Patterson March 19, 2009 at 6:08 PM  

Excellent story... as an insurance brokerage agency offering HTH programs, we love hearing these stories. We always recommend the HTH programs above all others... being a US carrier and being HIPPA compliant, it IS THE choice of Expats globally. To learn more about the differences between US and non-US insurers, I'd recommend checking out our informational here: .

Angelo Masciantonio March 20, 2009 at 8:59 AM  

Glad we were able to make life a little easier and healthier for you. HTH Worldwide is also sponsoring a new blog that's a forum for all who are interested in managing their health when they are far from home. Check out

Chantal March 24, 2009 at 2:47 AM  

Glad you had a positive experience. I too found a great doctor (FINALLY) that speaks perfect English. And I love the whole desk concept.

Young Traveler March 24, 2009 at 2:57 PM  

Just one more reason to love Europe: house calls.

Glad you've had a good experience. :)

reading September 21, 2009 at 11:09 PM  

I also want To have my Swiss insurance. I think its important for everyone. Where I get this insurance?
Online Pharmacy | Prescription Drugs

New York Life Settlement December 23, 2009 at 8:26 PM  

Great post regarding Swiss Doctor & Worldwide Health Insurance.. Really a great post... and good idea about swiss health insurance...
Thanks for sharing...

kareljones January 18, 2010 at 11:21 PM  

Year by year, thousand of people decide to move permanently abroad and to make a new life for themselves and their families in a foreign land.
While its true that the grass is always greener on the other side, many individuals have encountered problems abroad, then regretting not having ample support from their place of origin.
One of the things one need to check out very carefully is the expat health insurance.
Examine the provision of healthcare.

About This Blog

Tina & Rob have relocated their lives to Geneva, Switzerland. This blog is a story of their adventure during the year and all the details inbetween.

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