New to Switzerland: health insurance information

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Have you just moved to Switzerland? Or are you about to move here? Then you will need to think about your health insurance because whether you’re Swiss or not, everyone who lives or works in Switzerland has to have health insurance.

As in most European countries, health insurance is mandatory for everyone in Switzerland. This means if you live or work in Switzerland – with just a few exceptions – you are required to take out health insurance from a Swiss health insurer. This also applies to foreign nationals who have a residence and/or work permit for three months or more.  

Health insurance: 3-month registration period

After arriving in Switzerland, you have three months’ time to purchase health insurance. During this time, you can choose any health insurer you’d like. Afterwards, you will be assigned to one. Both the registration period and insurance coverage begin on the day you register with the Residents’ Registration Office. This means that if you have to go to a doctor within the first weeks of moving here, the health insurer you eventually choose will pay your bill retroactively.

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Basic health insurance vs. supplemental insurance

Basic health insurance 

The compulsory basic health insurance provides minimum coverage in the event of illness or pregnancy. But be aware that if you are not gainfully employed, you must also purchase accident insurance. If you are employed, then you are insured through your employer for occupational and non-occupational accidents. Although by law all basic health insurers must provide the same benefits, the premiums for these vary greatly. For this reason, you should compare health insurers before choosing one. We are committed to helping you find the most affordable basic health insurance. AXA itself doesn’t offer basic health insurance.

Which health insurer is the best choice for you overall depends on where you live, your age and your personal preferences. You decide which insurance plan works best for you: you can choose your own doctor, a specific general practitioner, medical advice over the phone, etc. In Switzerland, healthcare is based on the principle of deductibles. This means that insureds pay a part of the medical costs themselves before the insurer steps in. At the beginning of the year, it all starts over at zero. You can decide how high you want your deductible to be. The lower your deductible, the higher your insurance premium – and vice versa.

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Supplemental health insurance 

Not all treatments and costs are covered by this basic health insurance. Dental work, eyeglasses, complementary medicine, prevention, etc. are generally not covered by basic health insurance. And other things, such as emergency transportation, are not sufficiently covered. If you’d like to close these gaps, you can purchase supplemental outpatient insurance. Supplemental insurance is voluntary, but very popular – around 80 percent of the Swiss population has supplemental coverage. There are countless products on the Swiss market that offer different benefits, which makes it difficult to compare them. We would be happy to help you find the right product for you. 

Exceptions to mandatory insurance

Health insurance for cross-border commuters

Do you work in Switzerland, but live in Germany, Austria, France or Italy? There is a special rule for cross-border commuters who work in Switzerland but reside in a neighboring country: You can choose whether you would like to be insured in Switzerland or in the country in which you live. Your decision must be communicated to the Swiss authorities within three months. And you must include an application to waive mandatory insurance and proof that you are already insured. If you fail to do this, you will automatically be assigned to a Swiss health insurer and will not be able to cancel the insurance until the end of the year. 

However, commuters from Liechtenstein are under no obligation to have health insurance in Switzerland, so they do not need to submit a waiver. 

Working in Switzerland, but insured abroad?

Make sure that all of your scheduled treatments are always in your country of residence because bills from Swiss doctors or hospitals will only be fully reimbursed by your insurance if they involve emergency treatment. There are special cross-border commuter insurance policies available for such situations – but they are often more expensive.

Other special cases 

Despite living in Switzerland, people in certain situations can keep their foreign health insurance if they satisfy the requirements of the Swiss Health Insurance Act. In order to waive the health insurance requirement, you must submit the relevant application to the compensation office in the canton where you live. If you fail to do this, not only will you have to pay a lot if you get sick or have an accident, but you will also be subject to a fine. 

The following people may apply to waive their insurance requirement:

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