The Swiss healthcare system provides patients with very high-quality care, but it is also one of the most expensive in the world. For this reason, the Confederation requires all its citizens and residents to take out basic health insurance with the country's private insurers. This solution, however, is seldom sufficient and can be supplemented by additional health insurance.
Health insurance for expats in Switzerland
How does the healthcare system work in Switzerland?
Switzerland does not have a universal social security system, but its Federal Law on Compulsory Health Care (LAMal) requires all its citizens and residents to be covered by basic health insurance taken out with one of the country's private health insurers. Expatriates in Switzerland have a period of 3 months after their arrival to take out their coverage.
This basic insurance must cover minimum healthcare requirements, including:
General practitioner and specialist consultations provided by doctors in the insured person's canton of residence
Hospitalisation in any of the establishments included on the list of approved institutions of the canton of residence (or any other institution in case of emergency)
Certain preventative examinations
Accident-related care is generally excluded from basic insurance; extended coverage must be taken out to cover it, unless the insured already benefits from it through their employer. Hospital accommodation in a double or single room, dental care and vision care are also optional benefits.
Swiss insurance policies operate on the basis of annual deductibles (from 300 to 2,500 Swiss francs for an adult) and copayments (deductions from reimbursed costs): the higher the deductible, the lower the insurance premium. In exchange for certain restrictions, some insurance models allow for the cost of contributions to be reduced even further: for example, the “family doctor” model (which involves choosing a general practitioner without being able to change it) or the HMO model (Health Maintenance Organisation, which involves consulting within the health network assigned by one's local insurance).
> Good to know: The website of the Federal Office of Public Health offers a very precise premium calculator, which allows you to assess the amount of your contributions according to several criteria (canton, insurer, age of the insured, accident option, insurance model etc.).
How to choose health insurance in Switzerland: local or international?
The restrictions of compulsory basic insurance in Switzerland often means insured persons to take out supplementary health coverage in order to be better reimbursed. These extended benefits can be:
Sometimes funded by employers
Acquired individually from a Swiss insurer
Acquired individually from an international insurer
The third option is often chosen by expats in Switzerland, as it allows them to be covered in the different Swiss cantons as well as in other European countries, and to benefit from many specific advantages.