The healthy choice.

Author:Donnellon, Brien

Switzerland has arguably the most efficient state, mandatory and private insurance systems in the world. However, many consider the mandatory insurance cover to be excessive and, therefore, too costly. It is difficult to determine what is adequate, as this depends upon personal circumstances and an individual's attitude to risk. Let's take a look at the health insurance system, so you can make an informed decision.

Almost every person domiciled in Switzerland must take out health insurance regardless of age. Anyone arriving in Switzerland with the intention of staying must take out such insurance within three months of arrival. Parents are also allowed three months in which to insure their newborn children. (Exceptions to the rule include employees working in the EU, diplomats, short-term contracted employees, lecturers, students and scientists. These men and women are required to apply for exemption, which is granted when they prove they are insured elsewhere to at least the level of the Swiss compulsory basic health insurance.)

Compulsory basic health insurance

The insured may choose any health insurer, and the insurer must accept the applicant regardless of their age and state of health, and without any reservations or qualifying period. The compulsory basic health insurance ensures that everyone has access to high quality, comprehensive health care. It offers the same range of services and benefits to all insured people. Compulsory health insurance can be obtained from any branch of the approximately 90 health insurance companies operating in Switzerland.

The compulsory basic health insurance scheme covers illness, accidents and maternity benefits, although for accidents it intervenes only when the insured person has no other compulsory (for example, through an employer) or optional coverage. It also covers preventive healthcare including vaccinations (except special travel-related vaccinations or prophylactic medicines required for travel), children's examinations, gynaecological screening and mammography.

All insurers who offer compulsory basic health insurance must provide the same benefits, which are defined by Swiss law. "Optional benefits" can be insured under the complementary insurance scheme.


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