Switzerland boasts of one of the most robust healthcare systems in the world, but it is also one of the costliest Since healthcare is administered by local authorities from the health department, it may seem complicated Especially given the wide range of public, subsidized private, and fully private health insurance options that are available.
Anyone who is a resident of Switzerland, irrespective of nationality needs health insurance. You also have to be aware that every single family member, both adults, and children, have to have insurance. When moving to Switzerland with a residence permit that is valid for three months or longer, or even if you are working in Switzerland for less than three months but do not have the requisite equivalent insurance cover from another country, health insurance is mandatory.
Foreigners living or working in Switzerland also have to apply for health insurance as soon as they receive their permit. Though there are exceptions, such as for students who have equivalent insurance cover or cross-border commuter or a pensioner resident with health insurance from their country of residence. The staff of international organizations, embassies, and consulates are also exempt from this requirement.
How to apply for health insurance
There are around 50 health insurance funds in Switzerland that offer different types of coverage and solutions. Health insurance is considered an individual’s responsibility, and those who are traveling to the country have to take care of the arrangements.
Foreigners have a time of 90 days to join a Swiss health insurance plan (or confirm exemption), but they cannot sign up until they have actually arrived in Switzerland and have applied for their Swiss residence permit.
It is advisable to take your time and do a comprehensive health insurance comparison of the different providers to ensure that you choose the most relevant coverage for your requirements. If you have unemployed family members or children, you may explore different policies for them.
The coverage is for individuals rather than families, so you can choose different providers for different members. Your local cantonal authority can provide all the relevant information for you and guide you about the process.
Also, please understand that when you register with a Swiss health insurance company of your choice, the coverage will be considered active from the date that you have been liable for compulsory Swiss health insurance. So, from the date of you actually arriving in the country, and you can claim these expenses retrospectively. However, this also means that premiums are also calculated from that date.
Failure to avail of insurance even after three months of arrival makes you liable for surcharges and expenses already incurred, which will not be reimbursed.
How to save on insurance premiums
Let’s look at some of the ways to ensure that you do not spend unnecessarily on your Swiss health insurance coverage:
1. Comprehensive health insurance comparison
As you can imagine, most health insurers provide comparable or almost the same benefits under the compulsory schemes Make sure that you complete a health insurance comparison regularly to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible for yourself and your loved ones.
The major difference would be in the quality of services they provide There may also be differences in the payment process and requirements e.g., some policies may require that you pay for your medication, and then be reimbursed for all the charges.
That is why it is advisable to complete a thorough health insurance comparison so that you choose the most relevant policies for you and your loved ones No matter which insurance provider you choose, they cannot refuse to provide insurance to any applicant without valid reasons.
You should refer to the annual Overview of premiums for compulsory health insurance, available from the FOPH free of charge Another major consideration should be the notice periods that each policy offers. The right policy should offer maximum flexibility to change the provider without incurring too many costs
2. Supplementary Insurance
Each policy comes with certain compulsory benefits, however basic or advanced. During your health insurance comparison, make sure to compare what the supplementary insurance offers with the benefits as available under compulsory health insurance.
3. Types of insurance
There are certain types of insurance that help you reduce your insurance premium when doing a health insurance comparison:
- Restricted choice in healthcare – You can give up your right to a free choice of physicians and hospitals. Only after a consultation with a GP, can you be recommended by them to a specialist for treatment.
- Optional deductible
- Bonus insurance
- Different insurance models
Though Swiss healthcare insurance may seem too complicated, it is also widely accepted as one of the most successful healthcare models in the world With a proper health insurance comparison, you can ensure that you choose the best policy for you and save unnecessary costs.
Compare your health insurance in Switzerland at https://www.healthinsurance-swiss.ch/