Switzerland has a system of privately-run health insurance that is mandatory for all residents. Via insurance contributions through your salary, almost everyone in Switzerland contributes to sustaining the healthcare system.
Health insurance in Switzerland is diverse and provided by many different companies, who all offer different types of cover and supplemental insurances, on top of what is mandatory. It is essential that you take out health insurance if you want to become a resident in Switzerland.
International health insurance companies in Switzerland
These international health insurance companies provide cover in Switzerland, tailored to the needs of expats:
- GeoBlue (for US citizens)
Health insurance providers
There are over 50 different health insurance providers in Switzerland. Each provider is able to provide universal coverage in Switzerland to satisfy your requirements. Many also offer other types of private insurance alongside health insurance. Some of the largest health insurance providers are:
- Groupe Mutuel
Key facts about Swiss health insurance
Swiss health insurance is designed to provide a basic level of cover to every person in Switzerland. Although it is private, insurance costs are capped and regulated by the Swiss government. The cost of premiums varies between providers, but some can give greater flexibility and benefits than others. The most basic form of insurance is designed to provide an essential level of care that can be accessed at the same price by everyone, regardless of age, gender, race or previous health conditions.
Who needs to take out Swiss health insurance?
Everyone who is a resident in Switzerland must take out private health insurance, with no exceptions. There is no such thing as statutory health insurance, and you are not covered by any other state medical system, even if you are a national of a country that has a state health system. If you are visiting or on a visa for Switzerland, you must take out travel insurance during your stay. Anyone who stays for longer than 90 days must take out health insurance.
Am I covered by accident insurance if I take out Swiss health insurance?
If you are working in Switzerland for more than eight hours a week with an employer, you are automatically covered for accidents that occur while at work. This is mandatory as part of Swiss social security under accident and occupational diseases insurance. If you are looking for work, it is recommended that you take out a form of accident insurance alongside your health insurance.
Types of Swiss health insurance
Switzerland has two main types of health insurance. You are required to purchase basic health insurance regardless of circumstance, while supplemental insurance can be purchased to add extra benefits to your health insurance package.
Basic Swiss health insurance
Everyone in Switzerland must take out a policy of basic health insurance. This insurance is designed to ensure a basic level of care for all residents. The system does not consider any previous medical conditions in calculating costs and you will always be accepted for basic health insurance by any provider. However, basic health insurance will not allow you to go to a hospital that is outside of your county (canton), and you may have to pay if you want to be able to choose your own doctor.
Supplemental health insurance in Switzerland
Alongside basic health insurance, it is also possible to purchase supplemental insurance in Switzerland. Supplemental insurance allows for greater flexibility and benefits should you become ill. This includes benefits in hospital care, specialist choice and can even include gym memberships and glasses. Supplemental insurance must be purchased alongside a basic health insurance package.
If you are planning on studying in Switzerland at a university you need to take out a special form of health insurance. Student insurance provides temporary coverage for health needs while you are studying in Switzerland. There are many different types of student insurance available at competitive prices.
Key terms in Swiss health insurance
Before choosing your new health insurance package, it is essential that you understand some of the terms that are used during the application process. These words are specific to the policy you choose and can affect your monthly contributions and your liability for costs related to injuries.
Health insurance premiums
Health insurance premiums are the costs that you must pay each month in order to continue with health insurance. Instead of paying for healthcare through the tax system in Switzerland, all residents pay for medical costs directly. The cost of your premium will be determined by the type of cover you have chosen. For basic insurance, the price is affected by your location, age and insurance model. Insurance premiums for supplemental insurance can include previous medical history as well.
Deductible or excess
One of the main ways that the cost of insurance premiums can be adjusted is by changing the amount of deductible or excess you are willing to pay. A deductible is the amount of money you must contribute yourself when you seek medical attention before your health insurance provider takes over. Deductibles can range from nothing to 2.500 Swiss francs.
For example, if you need surgery costing 10.000 Swiss francs and you have a deductible of 2.500 Swiss francs, you are expected to pay 2.500 Swiss francs on top of your monthly health insurance premium. The insurance provider then pays for the remaining 7.500 Swiss francs.
How to change health insurance provider in Switzerland
To make sure that you have the best deal at the best price available, it is recommended that you change your health insurance regularly. You will often find that the prices of premiums fluctuate, so it is advisable to at least check whether a better deal is being offered elsewhere. The process of switching is designed to be simple, in order to keep premiums low and customers satisfied.
Switching Swiss basic health insurance
If you would like to change your health insurance plan in Switzerland, you must inform your previous insurer before the deadline date of November 30 so that your new insurance policy can begin in the following January. Insurance providers must accept requests for basic health insurance and your new insurer will be happy to assist you in the transition.
Switching supplemental health insurance in Switzerland
Switching supplemental health insurance is more complex than switching basic insurance, as insurance providers can choose whether to accept or reject your application. Therefore, it is essential that you follow the timeline set out by your previous insurer to make sure that your new policy begins at the right time and you do not lose cover.