Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life

Swiss men live on average the longest lives in the entire world, according to an annual report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life
The Swiss life expectancy average is now 83.4 years. File photo: Candida Performa

The World Health Statistics report, released on Thursday, shows that a boy born in Switzerland in 2015 can expect to live on average 81.3 years, longer than men in any other of the 194 countries studied.

Swiss men live a whole 12 years longer than the global average, which stands at 69.1.

Swiss women don’t do too badly either, with a projected life expectancy of 85.3 years, putting them sixth in the world behind women in Spain, France, Singapore, South Korea and front-runners Japan, where women can expect to live longer than anyone else on the planet.

When combined, the life expectancy average for both men and women in Switzerland is 83.4 years, placing the country second only behind Japan.

With its good health service, high standard of living, pro-family society and promotion of an active lifestyle, Switzerland frequently tops rankings related to health and aging.

Speaking to The Local, Simeon Bennett, spokesman for WHO, said: “As a general rule, nations with high life expectancy tend to have higher incomes, higher levels of health service coverage, higher standards of living, and healthier lifestyles and diets than those with low life expectancy.”

In September Switzerland beat all others in a global ranking of the best places to grow old.

And in February 2015 another study showed the country to be the best place to spend your retirement. The Global Retirement Index praised Switzerland’s health service for increasing life expectancy.

Overall, global  life expectancy increased by five years between 2000 and 2015 said WHO, the fastest increase since the 1960s.

But figures vary widely. While babies in 29 countries can expect to see their 80th birthday, those in 22 others, all in sub-Saharan Africa, have an average life expectancy below 60 years.

People in Sierra Leone have the world’s lowest life expectancy, of 50.8 percent for men and 49.3 years for men, found the report.

However improvements in the treatment and prevention of AIDS, malaria and other diseases have boosted life expectancy in the African continent by 9.4 years since 2000, said WHO.

“The world has made great strides in reducing the needless suffering and premature deaths that arise from preventable and treatable diseases,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.

“But the gains have been uneven. Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no-one is left behind.”

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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