Health Insurance in Switzerland

Updated 2011-08-11 09:54

Health insurance is compulsory for anyone living in Switzerland. Within 3 months after registering you have to provide proof of insurance to the city where you live.

Health insurance falls apart in two categories:

  • A mandatory insurance. The coverage of this insurance is the same, irrespective of the insurance company ("Krankenkasse") you choose. Companies may have different customer service levels, and last but not least, different rates. Companies have to accept all applicants, irrespective of health.
  • Complementary insurance is not mandatory, but many people take some. Two complementary insurance items are well worth considering. The first is: coverage in all Switzerland. The mandatory insurance only covers health care in the canton you live in. In the other 25 cantons, only emergency care is covered. If you live close to the canton border, you might want to visit a doctor or a hospital on the other side of that border. That is, however, not covered by the basic mandatory insurance. The second item is: dental care for children.

Rates for the mandatory insurance depend on the franchise you choose (minimum 300 CHF per year per person), the (part of the) canton where you live, your sex, and age. is a good site to compare the rates of the different companies. By the end of each year, the companies change their rates - usually upwards. This is the moment to check whether your company is still the best one for you - when rates rise, you may change to another company if you announce this at least 1 month in advance.
Some companies have reduced rates if you agree to additional conditions like

  • only taking health care from doctors and hospitals that are chosen by the insurance company
  • calling the insurance company before you go to a doctor ("telmed")
  • only going to a specialised docter after being advised to do so by your GP.

Of course, these conditions do not hold in case of emergency.
The mandatory insurance will not pay until you have reached the franchise you choose. Nevertheless, send them the bills, as that's the only way for them to find out that you reached the franchise and that they have to start to pay.
After having reached the franchise, you will find out that the insurance pays only 90% of the bills. You'll have to pay the remaining 10% yourself - up to a maximum of 700 CHF per year per person.

Complementary insurance is not mandatory, and conditions and rates may vary from company to company. You are not obliged to take complementary insurance from the same company where you have mandatory insurance - on the other hand, if any discussion arises about which part of the insurance has to pay, you'll face considerably less troubles if both insurances run with the same company.

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