Health insurance in Switzerland for foreigners
EU citizens who are visiting for less than three months are eligible for state Swiss healthcare at a reduced cost through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you are commuting over the border from a neighbouring country, you have the option of insuring your healthcare needs in either country.
If you consider your health insurance to be unsuitable and you wish to change Swiss health care insurance companies, you can do so by giving three months’ notice before the end of June or December, provided you’re on a package in which you are paying the standard CHF 300 tariff. Otherwise this can be changed at the end of the year with one month’s notice.
The Federal Office of Public Health (Bundesamt für Gesundheit) provides a full list of health insurers in Switzerland.
Is health insurance mandatory in Switzerland?
Health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland. Babies must be insured within three months of being born, for example. Adults who have moved into the country have 90 days in which to join a Swiss health insurance plan – or apply for an exemption. If you do not, then the local authority will assign one to you. This is not advisable because it may not be the one that is suited to your needs, and a premium may have to be paid.
Health insurance for non-EU citizens in Switzerland
Health insurance is mandatory for EU and non-EU citizens alike, however the procedures are different for the two different types of student. Whereas most EU citizens will hold a EHIC, non-EU students have to take out new insurance.
There are several options for non-EU students. Academic Care is the most popular option, and this is an insurance package designed specifically for international students. Another common provider is Swisscare, which offers a number of different plans to suit the various circumstances international students may find themselves in. Please be aware that these two options for non-EU students operate outside of the Health Insurance Act (Krankenversicherungsgesetz, KVG). This means you will need an exemption from the Swiss health insurance obligation. Applications must be forwarded to the health department of your local canton. Finally, the KVG insurance plan allows students to decide their own plan via an online premium comparison service. Please be aware of your geographical location if you choose this option, as procedures may differ.
Cost of health insurance in Switzerland
The cost of a health insurance premium can be determined by area, so an average cost can be sought by canton. It is interesting to note that the most expensive canton, Basel-Stadt, is nearly 60 per cent more expensive than the cheapest.
In Switzerland, schemes are designed to cover individuals, not families, so separate insurance plans should be sought for each member of the household. You are usually charged a monthly premium fee, and this figure varies.
It is not unusual for fees to vary year on year. This is because insurance fees are reviewed according to different factors, for example company debt, healthcare costs and so on. Some premiums have risen 15-20 per cent year on year. In 2017, there were substantial hikes to health insurance costs.
Children up to the age of 18 do not need to be with the same company as their parents and are given price reductions. However, once a child turns 18, they are responsible for their own health insurance and the local authority will usually send a letter before their birthday in their eighteenth year. If parents have not paid past insurance for the child, at 18-years-old, the child will become liable for the total bill. Some children have been presented with hefty bills, so it is best to ensure this does not occur.
The government has compiled a full list of fees.
On top of paying premiums, you will need to pay a minimum of CHF 300 of your medical expenses each year (for 18 and over). Insurance will provide cover for the excess. In addition to this, you will need to pay ten per cent of healthcare charges, which is capped at CHF 700, or CHF 350 for children.
Pregnancy, birth and post-natal care are exempt from excess charges in Switzerland.