Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Help & tips > Family matters/health
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 29.10.2015, 19:30
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 8
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 5 Times in 3 Posts
KirstenN has no particular reputation at present
Treatment of chronic pain in CH

I've searched the archives and haven't found anything directly related to my question, so here goes.

My family are considering a move to Switzerland (from the USA). Husband has chronic pain and a number of neurological issues that prevent him from working. One concern I have is whether we'll be able to get him adequate treatment. Not that Swiss healthcare isn't good, but chronic pain is a bear to treat, and we've had plenty of bumps in the road here getting him to a place where he more or less functions.

I'm also frankly a little worried that there might be a Germanic "stoic" mentality about pain that would mean his case is treated less compassionately than it might be elsewhere. Maybe I'm being unfair and stereotyping, and if so, please tell me.

He has a large number of medications that he takes, most of them not directly "pain pills" (only one of those, for night time only). Are we likely to be able to get him the same medicines in Basel that we can get in the US? How do we find that out (short of moving and setting him up with a doctor)?

Many thanks,
Kirsten
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank KirstenN for this useful post:
  #2  
Old 29.10.2015, 20:54
Medea Fleecestealer's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Misery-Courtion
Posts: 13,499
Groaned at 169 Times in 134 Posts
Thanked 9,631 Times in 5,503 Posts
Medea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Basic insurance covers pre-existing conditions, but you won't be able to supplementary insurance to cover other treatments.

Without knowing what drugs he takes no one can say whether you can get the same/similar here or not.

How mobile is he? Few places are geared up here for things like wheelchairs. Access in general is good, I'm thinking more on the accommodation side - it might be difficult to find a place to suit his needs. As I'm sure Meloncollie will point out you also need to think about costs if he has to go into a home here. It's expensive and again wouldn't be covered by insurance.

And what about the fact that he will not be able to communicate effectively with others? I'm assuming he doesn't speak a Swiss language so he's going to be very isolated being uprooted from familiar surroundings and people he knows.
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank Medea Fleecestealer for this useful post:
  #3  
Old 29.10.2015, 21:28
edot's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Winterthur
Posts: 4,857
Groaned at 21 Times in 20 Posts
Thanked 6,201 Times in 2,798 Posts
edot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Yes, those are indeed valid points. However, if you are seriously considering a move, you might as well check out the options carefully.

First of all, on his own, he will not be able to get supplemental coverage. However, if you're moving to Basel to work for a specific company, some of those do have employer based coverage - I have a friend, for example working for pharma, and she was able to get some supplemental coverage after a diagnosis of breast cancer - the coverage is provided by her employer. Should she loose her position, not sure what will happen.

Another thing about Basel - I have a number of friends in Basel who've been treated for cancer, and their doctors seem to be very compassionate, not very stoic Germanic. My physicians in Bern and Zurich are not especially stoic either.

Of course, you may decide to not come after doing some due dillegence. But it is certainly worth some research on your part. I would start with the University of Basel Hospital and look at their website, and call around. Lots of people speak English. This is not directly related to your husband's issue, but there is a palliative care group at the hospital in Basel - they might have resources or connections for chronic pain. It's not just hospice type care anymore, palliative care seeks to treat people with pain.

Perhaps your husband's physicians could give you a list of his treatments and medications (I believe generic names are best) and you can see how he might be treated at the University of Basel. I suggest that because you are likely to find a department assistant who might help you wade through the information. Alternatively, would your new employer be able to provide help?

On one hand, it's a lot of work. On the other, it can be an excellent experience - but you may have to do some digging. Ultimately you may choose to stay in the US, but you should at least look for info before choosing.

I personally know people who've been treated for cancer in Basel, not sure that would provide you with helpful info, but if you want something specific, send me a PM and I can ask them. It may or may not be relevant.

Best of luck
e.
__________________
"Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked" ---- Jane Austen
Reply With Quote
The following 4 users would like to thank edot for this useful post:
  #4  
Old 29.10.2015, 21:44
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: SZ
Posts: 7,616
Groaned at 18 Times in 17 Posts
Thanked 15,925 Times in 5,232 Posts
meloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

It sounds like you already have a diagnosis, so (hopefully) that frustrating phase is behind you.

(My experience with pain episodes was that getting a diagnosis via the GP was the hardest part. As you likely well know, it is often a case of first dismissing symptons, then elimination testing, then 'it's all in your head' then finally followed by 'gosh, you really do have a problem' before you find the right help.)

The good news is that once you have a diagnosis - which you already do - there is help.

I don't know Basel, so until someone from the area with personal experience comes along, a quick google of 'chronische Schmerzen Basel' brings up this from the University of Basel:

https://www.unispital-basel.ch/das-u...hmerztherapie/

Along with other hits for a pain clinic and various practices in Basel.

So it looks like there are indeed options for your OH. Whether these are the right options for your OH is something you two will need to explore.

Key will be to find a GP who is sympathetic to chronic pain issues, as you likely need a GP recommendation to see the appropriate specialists. Ask for GP recommendations here, also (assuming you are given relocation help from the company bringing you over) enlist the help of your HR/relo folks in finding the right practice.

Wishing you and your OH all the best.
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank meloncollie for this useful post:
  #5  
Old 30.10.2015, 08:05
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: SZ
Posts: 7,616
Groaned at 18 Times in 17 Posts
Thanked 15,925 Times in 5,232 Posts
meloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Random thoughts:

Browsing around the UniSpital Basel site, apparently there is a therapy group for patients with chronic pain who speak little German:

https://www.unispital-basel.ch/das-u...gebot/schmerz/

That therapy groups exist didn't surprise me, but that one specifically for patients who might face language barriers does speaks well for resources available in Basel. I would imagine a group like this would be a valuable contact as you learn to navigate the system here.

---

In another thread you mention a possible visit; if you have not done that yet, ask your relo contacts to set you up with an insurance specialist during your visit to help you more fully understand how the system here works, especially wrt the treatment your OH currently receives. EF member 'Jenny' is an independent advisor; she isn't on EF too often these days, but you might try contacting her for advice as well.

Speaking of insurance, what will happen to your U.S. Coverage when you return? (We are planning our return to the States after many years in Switzerland, and insurance issues have me laying awake at night. I know it's better now with Obamacare, but compared to the simplicity of the Swiss system the mind boggles... ) Anyway, do make sure you understand how a stint away from the US might affect you later, because as non EU citizens staying permanently in CH might not be in the cards.

Ensuring you have sufficient coverage should be a negotiating point as you make your decisions.

Again, all the best.

Last edited by meloncollie; 30.10.2015 at 08:20.
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank meloncollie for this useful post:
  #6  
Old 30.10.2015, 08:32
edot's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Winterthur
Posts: 4,857
Groaned at 21 Times in 20 Posts
Thanked 6,201 Times in 2,798 Posts
edot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond reputeedot has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

The big advantage to Basel is that there are lots of people from abroad employed there and lots of medical services can serve a non Swiss, non-DE or FR speaking population. I think Basel might be better positioned for this than Zürich.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank edot for this useful post:
  #7  
Old 30.10.2015, 15:41
Today only's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Europe
Posts: 3,718
Groaned at 483 Times in 293 Posts
Thanked 3,937 Times in 1,966 Posts
Today only has a reputation beyond reputeToday only has a reputation beyond reputeToday only has a reputation beyond reputeToday only has a reputation beyond reputeToday only has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Whilst i can commiserate with your situation, unless there is a valid reason for moving to Switzerland, such as enhanced or revolutionary medical assistance, is it really a good idea upsetting what you already have in place.

You say you have reached a stage where "he more or less functions", maybe the best thing would be to stop where you are now.

Switzerland is expensive, i don't know your personnel situation, but as you say he can't work, and as you haven't contributed to the system, there will be little help at this end.

Swiss healthcare and Switzerland in general is good, they are not wildly socially minded and can be a tad nationalistic, especially if foreigners are involved.....
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Today only for this useful post:
  #8  
Old 30.10.2015, 15:52
Carlos R's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Roundn'about Basel
Posts: 7,092
Groaned at 102 Times in 91 Posts
Thanked 9,661 Times in 4,067 Posts
Carlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond reputeCarlos R has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

There is a pain clinic in Basel.

http://schmerzklinik.ch/de

Contact details are at the bottom of the site.

They have English speaking Drs, including Bijan CHEIKH-SARRAF. You may want to ask them directly, especially if you are scheduled to come over for an interview type meeting, you might be able to schedule a meeting (although you'd probably have to pay).

Only issue is that the receptionists (the ones I've come across there) are not that fluent in English.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank Carlos R for this useful post:
  #9  
Old 30.10.2015, 16:13
TheSpouse's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 1,381
Groaned at 20 Times in 14 Posts
Thanked 2,179 Times in 706 Posts
TheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Kirsten, I'm sure you are reluctant to talk about your husband's specific medical condition on a public forum, (as you should be), therefore it will be hard for any of us to speak in anything except generalizations.

You really need to talk to a doctor here regarding your husband's care. Many doctors here speak English. Since this is Switzerland, expect a hefty bill for this telephone consultation, but it will be worth it if it helps you make an informed decision.

I would echo the opinion given above that Europe, in general, is difficult for people with physical handicaps. If you are going to be working all day, is your husband capable of walking to the bus? Getting on the bus? Walking on unevenly paved/cobblestone streets? Walking up and down hills? This isn't like America where the only place you walk is from the front door to your car to the Walmart and back to the car. Even people who have cars here find themselves walking 1000% more often than they did in America.

I haven't even gone into your recreational life. Weekends and holidays here are spent in physical activity and/or traveling. It's part of the quality of life. Is he capable of taking advantage of any of this?

Again, without knowing any specifics of your husband's limitations, it's hard to help you. Just consider what the quality of your husband's life would be and if he is capable of enjoying all of the things that make Switzerland so unique and wonderful.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank TheSpouse for this useful post:
  #10  
Old 30.10.2015, 16:19
lorena1's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: N/A
Posts: 644
Groaned at 51 Times in 39 Posts
Thanked 563 Times in 313 Posts
lorena1 has a reputation beyond reputelorena1 has a reputation beyond reputelorena1 has a reputation beyond reputelorena1 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Found that if you have a diagnosis and treatment in place, doctors are more inclined to help you with continuing the treatment. They rarely question another doctor's diagnosis and treatment, unless it is very out of the ordinary.
Never had issues obtaining medication and (physio)therapy as needed, but it took me a while to find a net of competent and reliable physicians. I think in a first instance it is very important for you to find the right kind of insurance, then find a trustworthy GP & specialists. You may initially find that doctors' experiences tend to resemble 'business' like meetings, rather than personable chats with un-intimidating, easy-going doctors you might have in the US. If you need any recommendations, don't hesitate to ask. There are some great clinics for chronic illnesses and pain management, some of which also have out-patient care, so it's something to consider as well.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank lorena1 for this useful post:
  #11  
Old 30.10.2015, 16:24
toastmonster's Avatar
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: ZUrich
Posts: 7
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
toastmonster has no particular reputation at present
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

the SO has had issues with this and I can understand your sceptisicm. But she got dragged over here with me and she brought the chronnic pain issues with her.
After turning up at the local doctors with a list of meds that she has balanced out over the years, the only question was are you using them for condition X or conidtion Y? Once she explained that they were for the management of Chronic pain, the doc handed over a new script to pick themup from the pharmacy and said if you need to work on these or change these in any way or they stop being effective, please let me know and come back.
This is with basic insurance.

HTH.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank toastmonster for this useful post:
  #12  
Old 30.10.2015, 17:26
fatmanfilms's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Verbier
Posts: 13,735
Groaned at 209 Times in 181 Posts
Thanked 11,043 Times in 6,265 Posts
fatmanfilms has a reputation beyond reputefatmanfilms has a reputation beyond reputefatmanfilms has a reputation beyond reputefatmanfilms has a reputation beyond reputefatmanfilms has a reputation beyond reputefatmanfilms has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Quote:
View Post
Speaking of insurance, what will happen to your U.S. Coverage when you return? (We are planning our return to the States after many years in Switzerland, and insurance issues have me laying awake at night. .
If you intend to return to the US, then keeping US medical insurance throughout your temporary stay in CH would make sense. I actually continued with UK's BUPA for 20 years whilst living in CH. It's only money & you can't take it with you.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank fatmanfilms for this useful post:
  #13  
Old 30.10.2015, 17:46
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 8
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 5 Times in 3 Posts
KirstenN has no particular reputation at present
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Thanks for this (and for all the other comments/thoughts on here; I don't yet have individual post "thank" privileges!).

A few comments to various comments and questions that have been raised:
Husband doesn't have mobility restrictions. Some days are bad, and he stays in bed or around the house. Other days he gets out and about just fine, although he tires easily if his pain is up. I actually think being forced to walk/take public transport could be good for him, and he agrees. He's pretty isolated here, so I don't see being isolated in Basel as any worse (though maybe that's not true).

We did visit during my interviews. I have received an offer and as part of that I have an insurance consultation on Monday. I have to decide soon, so this is one of the last bits of information.

I also have a call in to the US insurance company to see what happens if we leave the country. I can't imagine that not taking the benefits makes them go away if they are being paid for. As someone said, "it's only money and you can't take it with you."

Good to know there are non-German chronic pain groups (or group, maybe) available.

I do speak a little German, so I can help him get started with new practitioners if there is a language barrier. A lot of what he will need, in addition to continuing his current medications, is access to massage therapy and possibly acupuncture or other TCM. I noticed some threads on that here, as well. I'm hoping he can bring 90 days of medicine with him and use that time to get started. I do worry that I won't have the time/energy to help him a lot with that while I get started on the new job and also get my daughter settled (age 10, understandably not delighted to move).

Thanks again, really, for all your thoughts and research on my behalf. I will see what kind of consultation by phone we can arrange with the pain clinic before we decide. That's a great idea, too.

Kirsten

Quote:
View Post
Random thoughts:

Browsing around the UniSpital Basel site, apparently there is a therapy group for patients with chronic pain who speak little German:

https://www.unispital-basel.ch/das-u...gebot/schmerz/

That therapy groups exist didn't surprise me, but that one specifically for patients who might face language barriers does speaks well for resources available in Basel. I would imagine a group like this would be a valuable contact as you learn to navigate the system here.

---

In another thread you mention a possible visit; if you have not done that yet, ask your relo contacts to set you up with an insurance specialist during your visit to help you more fully understand how the system here works, especially wrt the treatment your OH currently receives. EF member 'Jenny' is an independent advisor; she isn't on EF too often these days, but you might try contacting her for advice as well.

Speaking of insurance, what will happen to your U.S. Coverage when you return? (We are planning our return to the States after many years in Switzerland, and insurance issues have me laying awake at night. I know it's better now with Obamacare, but compared to the simplicity of the Swiss system the mind boggles... ) Anyway, do make sure you understand how a stint away from the US might affect you later, because as non EU citizens staying permanently in CH might not be in the cards.

Ensuring you have sufficient coverage should be a negotiating point as you make your decisions.

Again, all the best.
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank KirstenN for this useful post:
  #14  
Old 30.10.2015, 18:41
TheSpouse's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 1,381
Groaned at 20 Times in 14 Posts
Thanked 2,179 Times in 706 Posts
TheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond reputeTheSpouse has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

It sounds like you are getting all of your ducks in a row well beforehand to make the best possible decision, so, good for you.

Also, tell your daughter that, some day, when she goes back to the US, she will be the coolest kid around because she will be bilingual, an awesome skier, know how to tie scarves in a million different ways and own an amazing boot collection.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank TheSpouse for this useful post:
  #15  
Old 30.10.2015, 18:53
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: SZ
Posts: 7,616
Groaned at 18 Times in 17 Posts
Thanked 15,925 Times in 5,232 Posts
meloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Kirsten, in prep for you insurance interview:

Acupuncture. TCM, and massage therapy usually fall under supplemental insurance, which your husband likely will not qualify for due to pre existing conditions.

Now, I specifically said usually, as I have no idea if they might be included under basic cover if these were ordered by the doctor as therapy. You will need to get this clarified, and the clarification set in concrete, or understand the cost you will have to pay as you negotiate your package.

ETA:

Wait, I forgot that a few years ago some alternative medical practices were added to the basic insurance. So you may be able to access these under basic coverage. But do clarify.





Have you seen this primer on Swiss insurance?

https://www.ch.ch/en/health-insurance/

It's pretty superficial but might be a springboard for further research or questions to ask in you upcoming discussions.

Good luck to you both.
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank meloncollie for this useful post:
  #16  
Old 30.10.2015, 21:32
Medea Fleecestealer's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Misery-Courtion
Posts: 13,499
Groaned at 169 Times in 134 Posts
Thanked 9,631 Times in 5,503 Posts
Medea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond reputeMedea Fleecestealer has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

Something else you need to consider KirstenN is the US tax side of things. As Americans you are required to continue filing US tax returns and could owe US tax on top of your Swiss ones. Start your research on this here:

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inte...g-Requirements

It's difficult for Americans to get a bank account here due to the US's FATCA law, only a few banks will even take Americans as clients now. To open an account here you will need to sign a W-9 form to allow the bank to send your account info on to the IRS. You will also need to file an FBAR form if any "foreign" account/s comes to an aggregate figure of more than $10,000 at any time of the year.

On the insurance side this may also help:

http://www.bag.admin.ch/themen/krank...x.html?lang=en
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Medea Fleecestealer for this useful post:
  #17  
Old 30.10.2015, 22:04
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: ZH
Posts: 1,466
Groaned at 7 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 2,227 Times in 823 Posts
doropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Treatment of chronic pain in CH

@KirstenN

http://www.bag.admin.ch/themen/krank...x.html?lang=en
Here (by clicking the link in the right hand column) you can find a list of FAQs kindly provided in English on the Swiss government law site, about the kinds of coverage provided by the compulsory Swiss medical insurance.

In the middle column are two lists of medications... but they are in German, French and Italian only, and the significance of the lists is explained in the FAQs.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank doropfiz for this useful post:
Reply




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Treatment for injury sustained before becoming resident in CH - who pay? JoMiFa Insurance 2 07.09.2013 11:25
CH tax treatment of UK tax-free savings chelski Finance/banking/taxation 3 13.09.2012 19:32
Back Pain Treatment âkkibhatt Other/general 34 09.03.2010 18:19
Cost of medical treatment in Switzerland readingsteve Insurance 1 11.09.2007 11:40


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 22:46.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0