For members


EXPLAINED: Should I take out Swiss health insurance before or after the birth of my baby?

In Switzerland, you can choose between taking out health insurance for your baby either before or after the birth – but there’s a catch.

EXPLAINED: Should I take out Swiss health insurance before or after the birth of my baby?
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

In Switzerland, basic health insurance is mandatory even for the youngest among us.

Though it is generally recommended to register your baby with a health insurance prior to giving birth to save yourself the admin headache during recovery and bonding time, you can also take out health insurance after birth – though this could have financial consequences.

In any case, you should do this no later than three months after welcoming your baby.

When taking out basic health insurance after birth, your baby will be insured retrospectively from their birth. This also means that the premiums must be paid retrospectively up to the entire month of birth.

You must also inform your own health insurance of your new arrival. Note that your baby does not have to be registered with the same health insurance as you or your partner.

Are there any consequences to taking out basic health insurance for my baby after birth?

No, there are no financial consequences to taking out basic health insurance for your newborn following the birth, provided you do so within the necessary time frame.

What about supplementary health insurance?

While taking out basic health insurance will – hassle aside – play out the same way before and after the birth, this is not the case for (voluntary) supplementary health insurance.

In Switzerland, you are strongly recommended to register with a basic health insurance company during your pregnancy as this will enable you to take out supplementary health insurance for your baby at the same time. Some insurance companies, such as Concordia (100 francs), will even give you a so-called baby bonus.

Further to this, when registering your baby with a health insurance company for basic health coverage you will not be asked to provide any health check for your (unborn) baby.

However, when taking out supplementary health insurance after your child’s birth, the insurer will collect information about your baby’s health in the form of an extensive survey – similar to those adults in Switzerland have to fill out when registering with an insurance company.

This means that should your baby be born ill or with a disability, the insurance company can impose restrictions on the benefits they are to receive, or worse, refuse to sign a contract for your baby altogether.

According to a 2019 article by Swiss broadcasting company SRF, most Swiss supplementary health insurance companies will almost always reject a baby that is born with a disability as they consider them a ‘bad risk’.

You will also have to inform the insurance company of any illness or disability that has been detected during antenatal screening tests, in which case the insurer may again refuse to take your baby on.

However, note that the health insurance company is not allowed to request antenatal screening tests. Parents must only declare the results with the insurance if they have it.

In general, it is advisable to have your baby insured between the 4th and 8th month of your pregnancy.

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For members


Cost of Swiss health insurance to rise by up to ‘9 percent’

Switzerland’s Health Minister Alain Berset has warned that the premiums of the country’s obligatory health insurance will increase sharply in 2024.

Cost of Swiss health insurance to rise by up to '9 percent’

The fact that premiums will rise next year is not a surprise per se, although the exact hike will not be officially released until October.

But in an interview with Swiss media on Thursday, Berset said the premiums “will increase on average by 8 to 9 percent “— higher than this year’s hike of 6.6 percent.

The reason for such a sharp increase, Berset said, is that this year’s health costs have already been higher than expected.

Aside from lingering financial effects of the Covid pandemic, other cost-raising factors include more expensive medications, overcharging for some treatments, and longevity.

Although the last factor is a positive development overall, longer life expectancy also means health insurance has to pay for chronic conditions associated with aging.

Additionaly, funds invested by health insurance companies, “lost 1.8 billion francs on the financial markets this year”, Beset added.

Also to blame, according to Berset, are cantons and interest groups (like Santésuisse, an umbrella organisation representing insurance carriers which is pushing for even higher premiums), “which block reforms aimed at reducing costs”,

READ ALSO: How Switzerland wants to cut soaring healthcare costs

Limited power to act

The Federal Council has only limited room for maneuver in the area of healthcare costs, because they falls under the sovereignty of the cantons, he pointed out.

The federal government regulates financing of the health system, ensures the quality of care, as well as safety of drugs and medical devices, and promotes research and training.

It also supervises dozens of private carriers to ensure that they comply with the federal law, which prohibits discrimination based on age or health status, withholding necessary treatments, and other provisions guaranteeing that every policyholder gets the same quality of care.

Cantons, on the other hand, are responsible for designing health care policies on their territories, licensing medical providers, coordinating hospital services, and — yes — setting healthcare premiums.

The reason is that cantons have different health infrastructure and levels of government funding.

Demographics and statistics also play a role: health premiums in cantons with younger and healthier population will be lower than in those with higher incidence of disease, and older, chronically ill people.

So while in some cantons rates are equal to (or lower than) the national average, in others they exceed that number.

In 2023, for instance, the highest, above-national-average premiums hit Neuchâtel (+9.5 percent), Appenzell Innerrhoden (9.3 percent), and Ticino (9.2 percent).

In 2024 as well, premiums in some cantons are expected to exceed the 8 to 9-percent average.

Some solutions under discussion

To counter rising premiums, which create financial burdens for many households, a number of groups and political parties have put forth proposals aimed at cutting the costs.

They include basing the rates on income, or even replacing the current private system with a cheaper, government-run scheme.