The basics of medical and dental billing in Geneva

October 25, 2019

One of the most interesting differences I’ve found in Geneva from the States is how doctors and dentists charge for their time. Back in the US, a regular checkup is usually a flat rate, but that’s not how it works here.

Shortly after moving to Geneva, it was time for my six-month dental checkup, so I scheduled an appointment with a nearby clinic. My hygienist was super friendly and chatty. We talked about life in Geneva, travels, and about our families. I left feeling like I had made a friend – that was, until I got home and examined my bill. I had been charged for every single minute of that chattiness – including the amount of time she stepped out of the room to take a phone call.

Turns out, this is typical of dental and medical billing in Switzerland. While your dental bills will often be done per minute, your medical checkups will often be billed in increments of five minutes. And not everyone will speak great English, so if you don’t speak French, you may end up paying a small amount for translation.

It’s not a bad system, it’s just different. Be sure to go in with a list of things you want to cover, and just don’t waste time talking about other things.