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International Healthcare in Switzerland



Healthcare in Switzerland

Any application for long term residence in Switzerland has to be backed up by proof that shows the application is covered by some form of medical insurance within 3 month after the arrival.  The authority in Switzerland can sometimes demand documentary proof of your insurance plan.  If the applicant has been have been working in the country over last 3 months and yet not able to prove he or she is covered by insurance from the home country, the applicant would be required to buy a Swiss insurance.

            There are provisions within the legislative framework which would exempt the applicant from any healthcare cover by local insures, and they are:

 If you can show proof that you are covered by insurance bought in your home country, and the insurance provides you with similar coverage to that of a basic insurance scheme you can find in Switzerland.

  • If the person’s trip to Switzerland is part of an exchange or other international program (e.g. intern, overseas student, interns, and scientist).  If so, the organizer or the employer from the resident country is expected to provide a guarantee that all medical costs incurred during the applicant’s stay in Switzerland would be its responsibility.
  • If the applicant has to be in Switzerland on business and it would be a short stay.
  • If the applicant serves in a diplomatic capacity or are being employed by an international organization.

 Basic Swiss Medical Insurance Coverage

 The national public and private insurance providers offer basic sickness insurance coverage and policyholders are free to decide what to choose.  The benefits accorded by such insurance schemes are broadly similar but it is normal to expect that premiums charged may not be consistent across providers, and sometimes the difference is quite significant.

 The country does not make it a law for state or private employers to extend basic sickness insurance to their employee.  It is the individual’s duty to make sure that one is adequately covered.  The employee has to decide which provider to go to unless the employment terms included basic coverage that is to be funded in part of full by the employer (in which case, the insurance company is fixed) but this is not a common practice in Switzerland.  Then you need not have to worry about your insurance needs.

 Take note that insurers in Switzerland primarily access the individual risk profile, rather than income level of application, in their considerations of any insurance application and this is also used as the basis to work out the corresponding insurance premiums.  However, low income households or individuals can apply to the Swiss Confederation for subsidy to help on the payment of premiums.  According to data available for 2004, the average of basic insurance premium costs about CHF 250/month.

 Switzerland system views insurance policyholders as individuals, not as a group of family members.  This is what makes the Switzerland’s insurance policy stands apart from other European Social Security programs.  Individuals must take up insurance for each member of the household, including kids.

 There is no restriction for policyholders to swap insurance providers but there are often accompanied by red tapes and do expect this change would take about 3 months to come into force.  If you have to be away from Switzerland for a significant portion of time, make sure your cancellation notice was sent in at least one months in advance.

 The benefits of the Swiss insurance schemes

 This compulsory basic sickness insurance covers all medical related services rendered in case of illnesses, accidents (if you are not in possession of an accident insurance policy) and maternity.  In a nut shell, those cover the in-and out-patient medical treatment, as well as prescription drugs, either from the hospitals and clinics.

 If a compulsory basic insurance plan is the only mean for your own self-protection against medical costs, then you will be compelled to contribute to an annual medical fund (which the government sets a cap) every year.  The amount of your contribution will be calculated based on your annual medical expenditures, while not exceeding its upper ceiling as mentioned above.  The ceiling was CHF 300/year in 2004.  The other point to note is that this tax amount can be variable that is to be decided by you. As a rule of thumb, the higher the contribution, the lower your monthly insurance premiums is going to be. The onus is of course that you are making an assumption or hedging your bets that you are not likely to succumb to any major or regular sickness during that particular year.  Generally, insurance providers are happy to reduce the premiums when you have a track record of not incurring major costs.

 This basic insurance plan does not cover dental services.  If you want dental benefits, you have to work out a separate arrangement.  Nevertheless, it is easy to find providers who offer dental cover.  For most people, the most convenient option is to go to the basic insurance provider to have your plan extended to include dental coverage.

 Additional Information about Swiss Insurance

 As much as 50% of the Switzerland population commonly opts for additional benefits in addition to the basic insurance cover.  Undoubtedly, such arrangement introduces more flexibility, for example, a more comfortable stay in the hospital when admitted, or a wider range of diseases under cover.  Take note that there is a distinction between basic insurance and additional insurance.  Contrary to basic insurance, in the case of additional insurance, providers are at liberty to decide if they are going to accept or turn away new applications. Additionally, it is entirely up to them if they see it fit apply any specific terms prior to they take on additional insurance. 

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