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HEALTH

‘Burn-out’ is an ‘occupational phenomenon’ not disease: WHO

UPDATE: The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that "burn-out" remains an "occupational phenomenon" that could lead someone to seek care but it is not considered a medical condition.

'Burn-out' is an 'occupational phenomenon' not disease: WHO
Participants at the World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 20th. Photo: AFP

The clarification came a day after the WHO mistakenly said it had listed burn-out in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for the first time.

The World Health Assembly, WHO's main annual meeting which wraps up on Tuesday, approved at the weekend the latest catalogue of diseases and injuries, collectively known as the ICD-11. for diagnosis and health insurers.

While burn-out was listed in the previous version, the ICD-10, its definition has been changed in the latest edition of the text.

“The definition has been modified based on existing research,” a WHO spokesperson said in an email. 

WHO has now defined burn-out as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

It said the syndrome was characterised by: “1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy.”

“Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life,” according to the definition.

The updated ICD list was drafted last year following recommendations from health experts around the world. 

The ICD-11, which is to take effect in January 2022, contains several other additions, including classification of “compulsive sexual behaviour” as a mental disorder, although it stops short of lumping the condition together with addictive behaviours.

It does however for the first time recognise video gaming as an addiction, listing it alongside gambling and drugs like cocaine.

The updated list removes transgenderism from its list of mental disorders, listing it instead under the chapter on “conditions related to sexual health”.  

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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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