What if I Get Sick While Living in Basel?

Moving to Basel eBookIf you’ve just moved to Basel, it’s possible that at some point you’ll become sick or need medical assistance. I remember after I had been in the city for a month or so; I got food poisoning, and was out incapacitated for a week! Later that same year, I had to have a root canal. I’m pretty sure the cost was more painful than the procedure! Over the last years I’ve lived through colds, flus, eye infections, hangovers, broken bones, and other assorted boo-boo’s. I think it was Indiana Jones who said “it’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage”…

This post should help you find medical and dental services in the case you get sick or hurt, while in Basel, Switzerland. I’m not a doctor or emergency service expert, so you should think about what you would do in case of illness or accident, and have a plan of your own in place, in case something does happen! The first thing you need to make sure you have is the compulsory health insurance in Basel, and that your employer (or someone) is covering you for accident insurance.



Emergency Services in Basel
The general emergency number is 112. You can also contact emergency police, fire and ambulance services at their own emergency numbers.

The general emergency number in Switzerland (and many other European countries) is 112. You should memorize this. This would be the equivalent of 911 in North America, getting you to general emergency services (fire dept, police dept, emergency medical service), and should be taken as seriously.  You should be able to dial this from any working phone. Even mobile phones with a non-functional SIM-card have an SOS mode that should allow you to dial this.

In case of a health emergency that requires an ambulance specifically, you can dial 144, in Switzerland. Ambulances in Switzerland are probably not covered by your health insurance plan, at least not entirely. I’ve never had to use the ambulances here, but from people I know who have,  this is between 300-1800 CHF for a single ambulance trip, depending on how far away you had to be taken and what services are necessary! Check this with your Basel health insurance company, if you have questions about how much you are covered for, if you need to get an ambulance to the hospital.

Some other numbers that might be handy in other emergencies are: Police (Dial: 117) or Fire (Dial: 118) or Poison control (Dial: 145).

You can also go on your own to the emergency room of hospitals or clinics:

  1. University Hospital Basel (Universitätsspital Basel)
  2. University Children’s Hospital (Children’s emergencies)

Follow the signs that say ‘Notfall’ (emergency)!!

This is the emergency room sign (notunfall) in Basel.
If you have an injury or illness that requires immediate attention, go to the emergency (Notfall) room of the hospital.


You’ll have to show proof of health insurance so be sure to have it with you. In fact, you should have your proof of insurance with you at all times, just in case anything ever happens to you and you require emergency medical treatment.


Is there a doctor in the house?

If your situation is not life threatening (or painful) enough to warrant an ambulance, or a trip to the emergency room you might still need a doctor.

The doctors that you are eligible to see, and how to approach them, depends on your health insurance plan. Be sure to check with your insurer to see how to proceed. If you don’t seek medical attention as described by your policy, you might not be eligible for coverage. For some policies, you need to see a GP before a specialist, others require a telephone call to a medical adviser before seeking out a physician. Once you figure out what medical plan you have, and how you need to proceed, choosing a physician can be another hurdle. You can talk to friend or work colleagues to let you know who they like or who they don’t. Alternatively, you can go online to look for physician reviews on sites like http://www.endconsumer.org or look on the English Forum in Basel.

If you work for one of the big companies in Basel and you need to see a doctor, ask if there is a on-site medical center.  You’ll generally be able to see the doctors and nurses there, free of charge.

Perhaps you want to go see a physician outside of work hours, or it’s Christmas morning or New Years Day and you’ve fallen ill. If you are not willing to brave the emergency room, there are some medical practices that are open outside of the standard working days. Medix Toujours is open 365 days/ year from 7am – 10pm. It’s a walk-in clinic for illnesses and injuries, where no appointment is necessary. Again, you should check with your insurance to see if they will cover you, but it’s nice to know that places like that exist!


Colds, scrapes and bruises, hangovers, etc.

The contact information for the Notfall Apoteke (emergency pharmacy) in Basel, Switzerland
If you need something from the pharmacy outside of normal opening hours, try the Notfall Apotheke on Petersgraben.

If you don’t think whatever is wrong with you requires professional medical attention, you might be able to find something to treat you at the local pharmacy. These are all over the place, and are generally indicated by a green cross on the shop, and the words Apotheke. They are located across the city and are open during the standard shopping hours. If you can’t make it during standard opening hours, there is an emergency pharmacy at opposite the University Hospital which is open outside of normal working hours and on weekends and holidays, and another one by the SBB which is open from 7-22 365 days a year. Over the counter drugs are more expensive in Switzerland, than in most other places in the world, so you might want to stock up on headache pills and cough medicine while you’re in another country!


Dental care

Taking care of your teeth in Basel.
Dentistry in Basel can be costly!! It might be better to schedule regular check-ups when you’re at home!

Like many things in Switzerland, dental care in Basel is great quality, but really expensive. If you’re an Expat, and you need the standard check-up/cleaning, etc. you might think of taking care of this in your home country when you go and visit. You can get supplementary insurance that covers dental, but it’s also costly. There are dental practices just across the border in Germany or France, when you can likely find dental work for less. If you decide to go to the dentist in Basel, or you need emergency dental work, I don’t have a recommendation for you, but talk to some of your friends or work colleagues, for recommendations or look on this recent thread on the English Forum. I’m not 100% certain if dental is covered in the case you damage your teeth by accident, so be sure to talk to your accident insurance provider regarding this (accident insurance is probably provided by your employer).

There is an excellent general health guide provided by the government which you should definitely download and have a look at.

I hope this post helps you find medical or dental assistance in Basel, Switzerland! Get well soon!!!