Expat insurance in Switzerland is an important issue that needs to be taken care of before moving there.
The beautiful Alpine country has a very different health and insurance system than other countries and, above all, the cost of healthcare is very high.
Here we explain all you need to know!
The compulsory health insurance (LAMal)
How the compulsory health insurance works in Switzerland
In Switzerland, health insurance is instituted by the Swiss Federal Law on Compulsory Health Care (LAMal)
The way it works is special: health coverage is managed by private insurers, known as health insurance funds.
But unlike traditional private insurances, these companies are supervised by the Federal Office of Public Health and must accept the membership of any person in their area of activity, regardless of age or health condition.
Registering to the LAMal insurance is mandatory for all expats in Switzerland
Membership to this insurance is compulsory for all expats in Switzerland, except for seconded workers who cross the border daily and are covered by the social security of their home country.
It is optional for students if they can prove that they have sufficient health coverage (international or mutual insurance in their home country).
You must choose your health insurance fund within three months of your arrival in Switzerland.
What does LAMal cover?
This compulsory insurance covers :
- General medical expenses
- Prescription drugs
- Maternity expenses
- Other treatments under certain conditions (vaccinations, gynecology, etc.)
Healthcare cost in Switzerland
Deductibles and copayments are expensive
Expat insurance in Switzerland is expensive because of the existence of the annual deductible and the copayment.
The deductible is the amount that the insured person has to pay each year.
When the deductible is exceeded, the covered health expenses are reimbursed, but the insured still has to pay a 10% share of the costs (daily contribution of 13 euros in case of hospitalization).
Deductibles and copayments are capped according to the situation (adult, child, maternity) and are common to all companies.
It is possible to reduce the insurance premium by choosing the amount of the deductible: the higher the deductible, the lower the premium, but the annual out-of-pocket expenses of the insured will be higher.
It is also possible to opt for an “alternative insurance model”, offered by some insurance companies: the premium is lower, but restrictions are imposed.
Price of healthcare in Switzerland
Healthcare in Switzerland is of excellent quality, but expensive.
The compulsory insurance does not reimburse optical and dental care very well: a check-up and a scaling cost about 260 euros.
Visiting a general practitioner can be surprising for expats because it is charged by time, in 5-minute gaps. A 5-minute visit costs about 15 euros, and a 20-minute consultation costs about 60 euros, so the bill goes up very quickly.
Choosing an expat health insurance in Switzerland or a supplementary protection
Expat insurance in Switzerland: supplementary or international insurance essential
It is not convenient to settle with the mandatory insurance when you are an expat in Switzerland: it is essential to purchase a Swiss supplementary insurance or an international health insurance.
The price of these supplementary insurance policies varies according to the age and health of the insured (medical questionnaire required), and according to the level of coverage.
It is not compulsory to take out this supplementary insurance with the same company as your LAMal insurance, it is even generally not very advantageous.
The advantages of international expat health insurance in Switzerland
There are several interesting options on the market when it comes to taking out international expat health insurance in Switzerland.
Depending on the plans and covers chosen, it is possible to cover much broader risks than just health expenses (civil liability, repatriation, legal assistance).
Mainly, these insurance plans protect the expat outside of Switzerland: it is possible to have expenses covered during stays in your home country or during holidays abroad.
The limits of international insurance
However, beware: taking out an expat insurance in Switzerland does not exempt you from joining the local plan, and some international insurance companies do not cover Switzerland.
The best way to find the international insurance or the supplementary insurance that best suits your needs is to use an online insurance comparator, which will allow you to easily compare quotes, covers and limits of each insurance plan.