Everything you need to know about Swiss health insurance

Everything you need to know about Swiss health insurance

by Laura Jones

Updated September 6, 2023

Switzerland might be renowned for its efficient public services, but Swiss health insurance can be complex. If you’re living in Switzerland or considering a move, understanding the intricacies of the Swiss health insurance system is essential. Our guide will help you grasp this all-important topic in a way that won’t give you a headache. 

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How does the Swiss health insurance system work?

Let’s break down the inner workings of the Swiss health insurance system in three bite-sized chunks: 

1. Everyone pays

Every resident in Switzerland is required to have at least basic health insurance. This system ensures universal access to good medical care. 

There are no specific rules around Swiss health insurance for foreigners. If you are a resident in the country, you play by the same rules as Swiss citizens.

2. There’s a lot of choice

Around 60 providers offer basic health insurance in Switzerland. The system is decentralized, and Swiss residents must choose their insurer. This sharply contrasts with the healthcare situation in countries like the United Kingdom, where there is one basic provider. 

3. Basic insurance is always the same

Yes, there is a lot of choice in terms of providers. But all health insurance providers in Switzerland pay the same benefits under basic insurance. The provider you end up choosing will depend more on the types of supplementary insurance you want.  

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Types of Swiss health insurance

Now that you’re curious about basic insurance versus supplementary insurance, let’s get into some more detail. 

Basic insurance

If you fall ill in Switzerland, basic insurance has your back (and every other body part, for that matter). This type of insurance covers visits to the doctor and hospital stays, including exams, treatments and prescribed medications. 

Basic insurance covers cost-effective and useful treatments. Your doctor should tell you if they are prescribing something that isn’t covered, but always ask if you’re unsure. Basic insurance also covers preventative medicine, like vaccinations and check-ups. 

Supplementary insurance

If basic insurance is a set menu, supplementary insurance allows you to order à la carte. Supplementary insurance is voluntary and offers several different benefits you can choose from. Some people pay for supplementary insurance because it gives them the right to choose their doctor, while others pay to access specialists like orthodontists or providers of complementary medicine. 

The cost of Swiss health insurance

How much does all of this cost? In 2023, the average monthly premium for adults over 26 is CHF 397; for adults under 26, it’s CHF 279. For children, the average cost is CHF 105. Keep in mind that this is an average and that costs may vary based on the canton you live in.

On top of the monthly premium, you’ll also pay a co-payment. The deductible varies, with an average deductible of CHF 300 (meaning you would pay the first CHF 300 toward your treatment each year, before coverage kicks in). Other costs to consider include a retention fee and contributions toward a hospital stay. You will pay none of these extra costs while pregnant

You can calculate the estimated cost of your compulsory health insurance using the calculator on the Swiss government site. It is independently maintained and free of healthcare advertising. The calculator is available in German, French and Italian, so get help if you need to. 

How to choose Swiss health insurance

1. Consider access

If basic insurance includes all the same coverage, does it matter which provider you choose? Yes, because basic insurance does vary slightly in terms of how you access healthcare providers. Some plans require an initial telemedicine consultation before seeing a real person, while others only allow you to see doctors in a certain network. 

2. Choose your deductible  

Higher deductibles mean lower premiums. If you’re comfortable knowing you’ll have to pay more out-of-pocket when you get sick, choose a plan with a higher deductible. 

3. Use the online calculator

If you’re still feeling unsure, start with the calculator we linked to above. It’s a free, anonymous and independent service that should point you in the right direction when choosing your medical insurance in Switzerland. 

Cheers to a healthy life in Switzerland

The Swiss health insurance system might seem overwhelming, but once you understand its structure and your needs, navigating it becomes much easier. The questions to ask yourself are whether basic insurance is adequate for you, how much you want your deductible to be, and what types of supplementary services may benefit you. Once you’ve answered these questions, you can hop on the government’s handy calculator and get started. 

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Laura Jones

Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio.

Laura Jones
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