If you are coming to study in Switzerland at a university or other higher education, it is mandatory that you have some form of health insurance. Health insurance in Switzerland is a private system of cover that is designed to fund and support the healthcare system. Many universities require you to prove you have health insurance before initiation at the start of the term. Switzerland has over 50 registered insurance providers who will be able to offer a tailored package to your needs.
Who needs student health insurance for studying in Switzerland?
European citizens can study in Switzerland without Swiss health insurance if they hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or have taken out private insurance in their own country. Non-EU citizens attending university on a visa or residence permit must take out Swiss health insurance.
This is mandatory and is essential in order to allow you to remain on campus. While in Switzerland, you are not covered by any healthcare provision or state healthcare system in your home country if you are not an EU citizen.
Studying in Switzerland with private health insurance from a non-EU country
Switzerland has in the past provided exceptions to people who have private health insurance from non-EU countries that cover them while in Switzerland. However, this is a highly rare occurrence and must be discussed with your insurance provider and university before your travel to Switzerland.
How much are students charged for medical costs in Switzerland?
How much you pay if you are injured or become ill while in Switzerland is dependent on the amount of deductible you choose when taking out your insurance policy. This will determine how much you have to pay when you need medical help.
A deductible is the amount you pay upfront for medical care. For example, if you need medical treatment that amounts to 20.000 Swiss francs total, and you have a deductible of 500 Swiss francs; you will pay the first 500 Swiss francs of your bill, with the insurer paying the remaining 19.500. Typically, the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium.
Applying for Swiss student health insurance
In order to get health insurance in Switzerland, you must register with an insurance provider. You will have to supply:
- Basic personal information and your age.
- Your county (canton) of residence, in a student’s case, the first place you apply will be the location of your university.
- Preference of which type of insurance you want to take out.
Choosing your student health insurance coverage
There are two different levels of health insurance that are available to students:
- Basic health insurance
- Supplementary health insurance
Basic health insurance for students
Basic health insurance is the minimum level of insurance that must be taken out by every resident in Switzerland. It will provide a basic level of cover for medical treatments in your county of residence and may include access to a doctor of your choice. If you require further coverage, there are other options that can give you wide-ranging benefits.
Students’ supplemental Swiss health insurance
On top of basic health insurance, students have the ability to purchase supplemental health insurance. This insurance allows for greater benefits and access to healthcare in Switzerland. Perks include coverage in all 26 cantons, wider access to alternative medicine, gym membership discounts, greater choice of medication from a pharmacy, and more comfortable accommodation in hospital. Adding supplemental health insurance will increase your insurance premium but will give you far more benefits than basic insurance.
Top tips for student health insurance in Switzerland
Swiss health insurance is a large expense for students, with average monthly costs of around 150 Swiss francs. However, there are many different tricks that students can use to make sure they get the best deal. This can involve increasing deductibles or choosing a student-specific package.
Swiss health insurance deals for students
Some health insurance providers have special deals that are specifically for non-EU students. Many of these will save you large amounts of money. However, be aware of high deductibles or increasing premiums over time. Some of the most prominent are:
- Groupe Mutuel offers an insurance package for students called Academic Care which can cost as little as 90 Swiss francs a month.
- Swisscare’s student plan has a student insurance offer, with coverage starting at 31 Swiss francs a month with a 1.000-franc deductible.
- SWICA has student care for non-EU students, starting at 91 Swiss francs a month.
Paying your Swiss student health insurance in advance
If you have the means to pay for your health insurance as a lump sum, many insurance providers will be willing to reduce the overall cost if you pay upfront. If you specify how long you will be studying for and pay in annual advances instead of monthly, you could save up to 5 percent of the total cost. Contact your health insurance provider for more details.
Increasing your deductible on student health insurance in Switzerland
A riskier option would be to increase the deductible you pay on your student health insurance. Generally, the higher the deductible, the cheaper the premium you pay each month. Deductibles in Switzerland can be set as high as 2.500 Swiss francs and can dramatically reduce monthly payments. However, this strategy does leave you at greater financial risk should you get sick. This is not advisable for those with previous health conditions or those who do not have sufficient funds to pay their initial deductible.
Choosing a cheaper model of Swiss student health insurance
The final way to reduce the cost of health insurance is to choose a cheaper model of basic insurance. Basic health insurance has four different models of healthcare coverage that have certain requirements and restrictions around medical care but can be up to 20 percent cheaper than standard models.