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HEALTH

Swiss top European skin cancer league

Switzerland holds the record for the highest number of new cases of skin melanoma per year in Europe, according to the latest figures,

 

The Federal Office for Statistics has reported that 2,000 new cases of skin melanoma are recorded each year in Switzerland, making it the fourth most common cancer in the country, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

According to the European Institute of Cancer Research, the number of new cases per year is so high that Switzerland has now topped the European rankings.

The number of cases reported has risen from 13 per 100,000 women during 1984-1988 to 21 per 100,000 from 2004-2008. For men, that number has risen even more from 13.7 to 23.5 per 100,000.

It is worthy of note that the number of cases reported represents those diagnosed at an early stage of development, before the cancer has really been able to spread.

The number of cases diagnosed at a later stage of development remained stable, at 7 percent of cases for women and 10 per cent of cases for men.

There are two potential explanations for the increase, Dr. Gürkan Kaya, head of the Dermatopathology Unit at the University Hospital of Geneva, told the newspaper. First, it is possible that the number of instances has in fact risen, he said.

An alternative, and more likely explanation according to Dr. Kaya, is that doctors and individuals are becoming more alive to the dangers of over-exposure to the sun. This is resulting in a greater number of checkups, which in turn means more melanomas are being picked up in the early stages.

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad
 

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