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Social Security and Healthcare in Lugano

Working in Lugano allows you to experience fast-paced city life along with all the benefits of outdoor recreation and the excellence of the Swiss social security system. To find out more, from key sectors to health insurance, read on below.
The Swiss are famous for exceptional healthcare, and Lugano is no exception.

The System behind Swiss Social Security

Social security in Switzerland is based on three pillars: state funds, occupational funds, and private savings. It is compulsory for employers and employees to contribute to the first two schemes.

The state-run funds cover Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance (AHV), Invalidity Insurance (IV), and insurance against loss of income due to military service or maternity leave (EO). Not only employers and employees have to contribute but self-employed persons as well.

Once you are over 24 years old and receiving more than 21,150 CHF per year, you also pay contributions into the occupational fund (second pillar), which are matched by your employer. Self-employed residents do not have to pay into this fund but can contribute if they want.

The third pillar, private pension plans, is completely optional. Expats who want to contribute can choose between two different versions. For more information, please refer to our in-depth article on the topic.

Social Security for Expats

There are some benefits for expats in Lugano who come from the EU or from countries that have signed a social security agreement with Switzerland. Provided they have paid into the social security scheme, residents of these countries are typically entitled to a Swiss state pension when they are ready to retire, even if they no longer live in Switzerland.

Swiss Health Insurances

With around ten percent of the Swiss GDP spent on health, you will benefit from excellent medical facilities while living in Lugano. However, you are required to have basic health insurance (assicurazione mallattie), and you must obtain this within three months of arrival in Lugano. Only some employers arrange cover.

Note that global health insurance policies are usually not accepted in Switzerland (even if they state otherwise). Instead, you need to register with a state-run Swiss insurance company. This can cost up to 10,000 CHF a year, though some employers do make reductions available.

Under the basic insurance, you cover the first 300 CHF of medical costs in a year yourself; this is referred to as the deductible. After this, your insurance covers 90 percent of the price of prescription drugs and treatments, and the sum of your ten-percent contributions is capped at 700 CHF annually. You also need to pay 15 CHF per day for a hospital stay.

It might be worthwhile to purchase additional private cover, too, for benefits not covered by the basic insurance, such as a private room at hospital, payments for contact lenses and glasses, or dental treatments.

Healthcare Services: From Pharmacies to Hospitals

As a Swiss resident, you will have free access to all doctors and hospitals. You can go straight to them without consulting your general practitioner. However, most of the Swiss population will visit a pharmacy prior to the doctor.

Pharmacists are highly qualified, tend to speak fluent English, and give excellent advice. In Switzerland, pharmacies usually have a monopoly on medicines: you will not find any drugs for sale in supermarkets. There are several pharmacies in Lugano, and at least one is typically open at night for emergencies as well. SOS Pharmacie allows you to easily search for a pharmacy on duty.

If you need an ambulance, call 144 or the uniform emergency number, 112. The operator will then direct the call through to medical services.

The main hospitals in Lugano are listed below. Please note that their websites are mostly available in Italian only.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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