Health Insurance in Switzerland: A Comprehensive Guide to Saving in 2024
A Mandatory Requirement
Health insurance is not just an option but a mandatory requirement in Switzerland. With around 60 authorized non-profit health insurers offering both compulsory and supplemental health insurance to residents, the choice can be overwhelming. Regardless of your health, age, or socioeconomic status, you are obligated to buy an insurance policy from one of these insurers. However, low-income households can breathe easy, as they receive subsidized premiums.
Healthcare System in Switzerland
The healthcare system in Switzerland is a mix of public and private healthcare systems. The government regulates the healthcare act, while non-profit private providers offer health insurance. Unlike other EU countries, health insurance in Switzerland is not connected to employment. All residents are responsible for choosing their insurance provider and taking out the proper insurance. Supplemental insurance for additional benefits is also an option. The costs of visiting a healthcare provider are reimbursed by their provider between 80 to 100 percent, after the payment of the premium and a co-payment amount.
Health Insurance for Expats in Switzerland
If you’re an expat living in Switzerland, it is mandatory to purchase health insurance within three months of entering the country. The process involves obtaining a residence permit, finding an insurance provider, purchasing the insurance, and receiving your insurance card. This card is crucial for all billing purposes when you visit a healthcare provider. It’s important to note that health insurance is mandatory for all legal residents in Switzerland, regardless of nationality.
What Does Compulsory Health Insurance Cover in Switzerland?
Compulsory health insurance in Switzerland is comprehensive, covering a wide variety of conditions including doctor visits, all medical treatments, hospital treatments, and certain types of medicine. It also covers preventative medicine, maternity, physiotherapy, complementary medicine if prescribed by a licensed specialist, spectacles, and lenses in cases of serious eye diseases.
Costs and Funding in Switzerland’s Healthcare System
Switzerland’s healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP is the highest in Europe. The country spends 12.3% of its GDP on healthcare. Patients in Switzerland pay up to 8% of their personal income towards the cost of a basic insurance plan. If their premiums work out to more than 8% of their income, the government provides a cash subsidy to cover the difference. Additionally, residents with low incomes are eligible for reductions on their insurance premiums.
Three Main Ways to Save on Health Insurance Premiums
There are three main ways to save on health insurance premiums in Switzerland. The first is by switching health insurance providers. All Swiss health insurance providers offer the same benefits under their basic insurance, making them easily comparable. The second method is by optimizing the franchise, the amount you pay annually before the insurance starts covering the costs. The third method is through the choice of an insurance model.
Choosing the Right Provider
The Federal Office of Public Health provides an online premium calculator that can help individuals find the cheapest provider in their region. Switching providers can save hundreds or thousands of Swiss francs. The new provider must accept the individual into their basic insurance, regardless of their health status. However, switching might be more complicated with private insurers.
Optimizing the Insurance Franchise
The higher the franchise (the amount paid annually before the insurance starts covering the costs), the bigger the discount on the premium. There are six levels to choose from, between 300 and 2500 Swiss francs. If the expected annual treatment costs are under 1800 Swiss francs, it’s best to choose the highest franchise of 2500 Swiss francs.
Selecting a Cheaper Model of Insurance
The third method of saving is through the choice of insurance model. Discounts are also available for GP, Telmed, and HMO models. It’s also advisable to exclude accident coverage if already insured and to pay premiums annually for extra savings.
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