For members


Five tips for getting cheaper health insurance in Switzerland

Swiss health insurance is notoriously expensive, but there are a few ways to cut the cost of the premiums.

Five tips for getting cheaper health insurance in Switzerland
Restricted choice of doctor can save you quite a bit of money. Photo by AFP

By now, you have received a letter from your insurance company, notifying you of the premium for 2021 – by law, carriers must announce the new rates to their clients no later than October 31st.

Because the differences in premiums from one insurer to another can vary, you could potentially save several hundred francs a year. So you could get the same benefits for less money.

Here are some other ways to cut the cost of your health policy, but keep in mind that if you want to cancel your current plan and switch to another one, you must notify your carrier, by registered post, by November 30th at the latest.

Health maintenance organisation (HMO)

Under this model, policyholders are required to consult a particular HMO practice. Two disadvantages of this alternative is a limited choice of doctors and you also need a referral to see a specialist.

However, the benefit is a premium reduction of up to 25 percent compared to the conventional insurance.

Family doctor model

Your family doctor, a general practitioner, will be designated by your insurance company and will be in charge of all your medical treatment.

He or she will refer you to a specialist if necessary. 

If you opt for this option, you could save 20 percent on your insurance.

READ MORE: How to change your health insurance carrier in Switzerland 

The Telmed alternative

If you choose this option, you have to call a telephone service and get a referral to a doctor or hospital.

This does not apply to medical emergencies and other exceptions, such as eye exams and annual gynecological check-ups.

Total savings could range between 15 and 20 percent. 

For both HMO and Telmed you can calculate your premiums here. 

Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

Increase your deductible

In Switzerland, the deductible (franchise) ranges from 300 to 2,500 francs.

The lower your deductible, the higher your premiums, and vice-versa.

If you are young, healthy, hardly ever get ill, and don’t take any expensive medications, then you can save substantially with the highest franchise.

Keep in mind, however, that if you choose the highest deductible and end up needing medical care, you will have to pay a greater proportion of the costs.

Pay the premiums in one lump sum

Most insurance carriers will give you a 2-percent reduction if you pay your premiums upfront rather than on monthly basis.

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For members


Taxes to work permits: Who deals with what in Switzerland?

Like other countries, Switzerland too is a bureaucracy, where various government agencies oversee different functions of public and private life.

Taxes to work permits: Who deals with what in Switzerland?

Unless you are a hermit and live off the grid, you will, sooner or later (probably sooner), have to deal with administrative processes of one kind or another.

In this respect, Switzerland is no different from any other nation, with the only difference being that because it is small and well-organised, the bureaucratic machine is running smoother here than elsewhere.

On the plus side, because it is fairly efficient, dealing with various public entities is probably less of a hassle in Switzerland than in less tidy administrations.

If you are a foreigner, especially a newly arrived one, you may not yet be familiar with the workings of various government agencies — in other words, who does what.

The first thing to know is that very few tasks that are likely to affect you personally are done at the federal level; most administrative processes are handled by cantons and municipalities.

These are some of the most important services, and who is responsible for providing them:

Pensions: federal and cantonal

The Federal Department of the Interior regulates and supervises obligatory pension plans, while the Federal Social Insurance Office implements the scheme.

Your pension, however, will be paid by your canton’s social insurance office

Work / residence permits: cantons

Permits are delivered by your canton, though the application procedure is different depending on whether you are an EU / EFTA national or a citizen of a third country.

Cantonal authorities are also responsible for renewing / extending expiring permits.

Taxes: cantons

As the cantonal tax office calculates how much taxes you owe in any given year, your declaration must be sent to cantonal authority

They will collect the cantonal, federal, and municipal taxes, distributing the money proportionally among them.

Driver’s license / car registration: canton

Anything related to driving — tests, licenses, vehicle registrations, and inspections — is the responsibility of cantonal automobile services

Health insurance subsidies:canton

If the monthly premiums of your obligatory health insurance (KVG / LaMal) exceed 8 percent of your income, then you may qualify for subsidies (premium reductions) from your  canton of residence.

You can apply for them here

READ ALSO: How do I apply for healthcare benefits in Switzerland?

Social aid: canton and municipality

Welfare assistance comes under the responsibility of your canton, which will consider your application and determine if you are eligible for financial help.

However, you should submit your application for assistance to your municipality, which will then transfer it to the cantonal welfare office.

As you can see, most public services are managed by cantons, so you may be wondering what is the role of your local municipality / commune?

They do their share as well.

For instance, they manage a register of residents, organise and maintain their own fire brigades, civil defence units and police forces (the latter two mostly in bigger communes).

They are also responsible for schools on their territories, as well as local energy supplies, municipal roads and parking, waste management, and infrastructure planning and upkeep, among other tasks.

READ ALSO: What exactly does your Swiss commune do?