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HEALTH

Switzerland calls up army reservists to help in coronavirus crisis

Switzerland has called up thousands of army reservists to help in the battle against coronavirus, the first time it has done so since World War II.

Switzerland calls up army reservists to help in coronavirus crisis
A member of the Swiss Army deployed to support public hospitals as part of a historic mobilisation for Swiss Army since the Second World War, against the spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

In order to relieve hospitals under pressure, the army announced it could mobilise up to 8,000 personnel.

Lieutenant-Colonel Raoul Barca, in charge of a battalion of 750 soldiers, told AFP it was the first time that reservists had been called up since 1939.

“The situation is serious… the coming days will be critical for the health care system,” director-general of health for the Geneva canton Adrien Bron told reporters on Sunday.

Schools, universities and creches have been closed in Switzerland as part of measures to limit the transmission of the virus.

The country has recorded 7,000 infections including 60 deaths from the disease.

It has so far avoided confinement restrictions adopted by other countries but on Friday announced that it would ban all gatherings of more than five people, and that anyone standing closer than two metres to others risked a fine.

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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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