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HEALTH INSURANCE

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

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.

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

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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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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