Emergency transportation: Who bears the costs for Rega or an ambulance?

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Emergency transportation is expensive. Many people are surprised at how much they have to pay themselves - even though they have health insurance. We have put together the most important information for you in our checklist. 

Lisa is limping to the sofa with a small stack of post. After propping up her right leg, she hurriedly rips open the letter with the logo of her basic health insurer. It contains the invoice she's been dreading for weeks. Lisa skips over the words. Rega is charging her a total of 4270 francs! The student emits a deep sigh. The basic health insurer will only pay half of the rescue costs. Lisa has no idea how she'll pay her share – on top of the excess and the deductible that she has to pay following her unexpected stay in hospital.

Mountain rescue: Basic insurance pays only 50%

Lisa was actually planning to work again in the nursing home for the summer following her semester exams and a relaxing weekend in the mountains. However, during the descent, she made a misstep and broke her foot. And it happened in such unfavorable terrain that the helicopter rescue took half an eternity – making it really expensive. The accident ruined not only Lisa's plans but also her tight budget.
Lisa's problem: As a full-time student, she can only work temporarily and is therefore covered for accidents through her basic health insurer. Basic insurance only pays 50% of the transportation costs, up to an annual maximum (see checklist).

Expensive ride in the ambulance

If you are not covered for accidents through your basic health insurer, but through your employer, you are better off than Lisa: The accident insurance assumes full transportation costs. But rescue transportation can also be costly for you – if, for example, you suffer lumbago, an asthma attack or even a heart attack. Because, in the event of an illness, the basic health insurance is responsible and charges you at least 50% of the costs. By the way, not only air rescues, but also trips by ambulance quickly become expensive. Depending on the region they cost up to CHF 2,000. In addition, this amount is also subject to cost participation, with the deductible and franchise also being due.

A Rega patronage is no insurance

If Lisa had been a patron of the Swiss Air Rescue Rega, this might have saved her some worries. Because Rega can waive the rescue costs for their patrons if their rescue mission is not or only partially covered by insurance. However, there is no legal entitlement to these voluntary Rega benefits. Hence, a Rega patronage should not to be confused with supplementary insurance. And another aspect should be borne in mind: the Rega service may have no capacity when you need it. In which case, a different rescue service will step into the breach. In cases like this, a Rega patronage will be of no use.
Many supplementary insurance policies close the gaps in transportation and rescue costs. Supplementary insurance from AXA assumes all costs up to CHF 100,000 in Switzerland, and all costs abroad (no upper limit). An alternative to supplementary insurance is travel insurance: By taking out the module "personal assistance," rescue, recovery and transportation costs are reimbursed. Supplementary insurance for Lisa would have therefore been worthwhile – despite or even because of her tight budget.

Checklist for transportation and rescue costs.

Accident or illness?

  • In the event of an accident, the employer's accident insurance pays 100% of the transportation costs, whereas the basic health insurance pays 50%.
  • In the event of an illness, the basic health insurance pays just 50% of the costs:
    • If these are  transportation costs, the annual maximum is CHF 500.
    • For a rescue, the annual maximum is CHF 5,000.

These gaps can be filled by supplementary health insurance or travel insurance.

Transportation or rescue?

  • Transportation means that a patient has to be brought to the place of treatment. This requires medically necessary professional care on the way .
  • Rescue means that a patient must be rescued from a life-threatening situation .

Switzerland or abroad?

  • The basic health insurance also contributes to transportation costs incurred abroad. The same conditions apply as in Switzerland.
  • However, the basic health insurance does not contribute to the costs of rescues abroad.
  • Search missions, recovery and repatriation from abroad are not included in basic insurance coverage .

These gaps can be filled by supplementary health insurance or travel insurance.

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