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Health insurance in Switzerland

Health insurance in Switzerland

Switzerland has a system of privately-run health insurance that is mandatory for all residents. Known as Krankenversicherung, Assurance-maladie or Assicurazione malattie, health insurance in Switzerland is paid for by all residents and contributes to sustaining the healthcare system. It is essential that you take out health insurance if you want to become a resident in Switzerland.

Health insurance in Switzerland in a nutshell

Health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland. That means: if you are staying in Switzerland for longer than 90 days, you must take out Swiss health insurance. You can either opt for basic health insurance, which offers an essential standard of care, or choose to enhance your coverage with an additional supplemental health insurance package. Both are paid for via monthly premiums.

Taking out health insurance in Switzerland

Health insurance in Switzerland is diverse and provided by many different companies (known as Krankenkassen, caisses maladie or casse malati), who all offer different types of coverage and supplemental insurance, on top of what is mandatory. Below we have listed some key providers.

Health insurance companies

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 in Switzerland are:

  • Sanitas
  • Helsana
  • CONCORDIA
  • Groupe Mutuel
  • Sympany

International health insurance companies in Switzerland

These international health insurance companies provide cover in Switzerland, tailored to the needs of expats:

Health insurance comparison

Before opting for a provider, it is a good idea to compare offers from different health insurance companies, noting differences in premiums, coverage, voluntary excess, and the claims process. There are various tools available on the internet that offer health insurance comparisons.

Key facts about Swiss health insurance

Health insurance in Switzerland is designed to provide a basic level of cover to every person. Although the providers are privately run, insurance costs are regulated by the Swiss government.

Premiums vary between providers, but some can give greater flexibility and better benefits than others. The most basic form of insurance is designed to provide an essential standard of care that can be accessed 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 short-term 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 aren't looking for work or are a freelancer, 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:

  • Basic health insurance
  • Supplemental health insurance

You are required to take out a basic health insurance policy regardless of your circumstances, 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 basic health insurance. As the name suggests, this type of 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 all providers are obliged to accept applications. That means: you can take out basic health insurance with any provider and are guaranteed coverage.

However, basic health insurance does come with some limitations. For instance, if you only have basic cover, you cannot go to a hospital that is outside of your home canton, and you may have to pay a supplement if you want to be able to choose your owndoctor.

Supplemental health insurance in Switzerland

For this reason, many people choose to “top up” their basic health insurance with supplemental insurance in Switzerland. Supplemental insurance provides an extra standard of care, giving you greater flexibility and more benefits.

This includes different standards in hospital care and the freedom to choose your own specialist doctor, and can even include gym memberships and glasses. Supplemental insurance must be purchased on top of a basic health insurance package; you cannot purchase supplemental insurance on its own.

Student health insurance in Switzerland

If you are planning on studying in Switzerland at a university you need to take out a special form of health insurance. Student insurance in Switzerland provides temporary coverage for health needs while you are studying. 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 commonly used, as they are all important for understanding how much money you will pay for your health insurance and the standard of care you can expect to receive.

Health insurance premiums

Health insurance premiums are the costs that you must pay each month in order to keep your policy active. Instead of paying for healthcare indirectly 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. Premiums for supplemental insurance can be calculated on the basis of your previous medical history and will vary depending on the level of coverage you have chosen.

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.

Deductibles usually apply per year, so smaller medical fees that you pay will be added together and go towards your deductible for that year. For instance, using the above example of a deductible of 2.500 francs, if you visited the doctor 10 times in one year, costing you 250 francs each time, your next visit (or any other health expense) would be covered by your health insurance, as you have now exhausted your deductible. 

Children and adolescents under the age of 18 are exempt from paying a deductible.

Copayments

On top of your deductible, you are also expected to pay towards some of your healthcare costs in Switzerland. These are known as “copayments” and include:

  • A retention fee of 10 percent of the costs exceeding the deductible (up to 700 Swiss francs per year, or 350 Swiss francs for anyone under the age of 18).
  • A contribution of 15 Swiss francs per day for stays in hospital (anyone under the age of 18, people in training up to the age of 25, and women receiving maternity care are exempt).

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. 

Typically, insurance providers will inform you of your updated premium for next year in September or October, giving you time to shop around should it be higher than expected. The process of switching is designed to be simple, in order to keep premiums low and customers satisfied.

Switching basic health insurance in Switzerland

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 each year, so that your new insurance policy can begin 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 current insurer to make sure that your new policy begins at the right time and you do not lose cover.


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