Millions of Swiss residents switch health insurance amid rising costs

The number of people changing their health insurance provider in Switzerland nearly doubled predictions in 2022.

Millions of Swiss residents switch health insurance amid rising costs
Photo: Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash

Rising cost of living and rocketing healthcare costs in Switzerland will see health insurance prices rise by about 6.6 percent as 2023 comes in.

That increase is one of the largest the country has ever seen – given that most annual hikes are in the 1.5 percent range. The federal government says most of it is Covid-related.

While it amounts to an increase of about 22 francs per month to an overall average monthly premium of 335 francs, that can vary widely by canton. Basel, Neuchâtel, and Ticino will see even higher increases of over 9 percent each. Basel itself will have average monthly premiums of over 425 francs – the highest in the country.

According to price comparison portal Comparis, 27 percent of people in Switzerland changed their basic health insurance provider in 2022 in an attempt to save money ahead of the hikes. People under 36 years of age changed at a higher rate – about 41 percent made the switch. French-speaking cantons were most likely to change, at 31 percent. Men were also much more likely to change than women, at 32 and 21 percent, respectively.

More than 60 percent of switchers said price was a main consideration. That’s possibly why smaller insurers tended to gain the most new customers in 2022.

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Could you be forced to vaccinate your children in Switzerland?

Unlike many other countries, Switzerland doesn’t have a vaccine mandate. But does this mean authorities can’t demand that your kids get jabbed?

Could you be forced to vaccinate your children in Switzerland?

As health authorities kept saying during the pandemic, when vaccines had become a highly controversial issue, immunisations against Covid — or any other diseases, including the childhood ones — are not compulsory (read more about this below).

But those are just empty words to one Basel mother.

The woman, an avid anti-vaxxer who, according to media reports, considers vaccines “a genocide,” refused to vaccinate her kids, now 8 and 10 years old, against measles, which is one of  several immunisations that the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) recommends for children.

The kids were not immunised against any other childhood illnesses either.

However, the children’s father, from whom the mother is divorced, wanted them to get the  measles shot. The long-winded battle between the parents eventually landed in Switzerland highest tribunal, the Federal Court.

As it had done in several previous similar cases when parents didn’t see eye to eye about vaccinating their children, the court followed FOPH’s recommendations — that is, it complied with public health guidelines, which are clearly in favour of childhood immunisations.

Therefore, judges sided with the father, giving the mother until today, September 15th, to immunise her children against measles.

If she still refuses to comply, “police intervention will be necessary” and children will be taken to a pediatrician and vaccinated against the mother’s  will.

In the meantime, opposition to the court’s ruling (and support for the mother) has been growing in her local community in Basel-Country, where residents are organising a vigil for the mother and her children.

Is forced vaccination legal in Switzerland?

Generally, it isn’t.

Swiss law, which guarantees individual freedom of choice and self-determination, doesn’t allow forcing someone to get vaccinated against their will — the main reason why Switzerland never introduced a vaccine mandate during the Covid pandemic.

By the same token, Switzerland doesn’t mandate common childhood vaccines either, including those against measles, whooping cough, tetanus, and others required in many other countries around the world, including neighbours Germany, France, and Italy.

Vaccinations are not required to attend public schools in Switzerland, unlike in many other countries. 

READ ALSO: Why vaccinations are not mandatory in Switzerland

This had become a problem in Switzerland in 2019, when measles spread among the unvaccinated children and adults at a faster rate than in prior years and in other European countries; more than 215 people became ill, and two people consequently died from this illness – a 30-year-old man who had never been vaccinated, and a cancer patient whose immunity was weakened. 

According to FOPH, two doses of a combined childhood vaccine (called ‘MMR’) are recommended — the first at nine months and the second at 12 months of age. “A catch-up immunisation is possible at any age and is recommended for anyone born after 1963 who is not yet immune.”