Which illnesses do people in Switzerland fear most?

It might be reasonable to assume that people in Switzerland would be most afraid of coronavirus due to it being so high on the health agenda this year. But a new study found this is not the case.

Which illnesses do people in Switzerland fear most?
Most of the respondents are not afraid of Covid-19, study shows. Photo by AFP

According to a study commissioned by the CSS health insurance company published on Thursday,  the Covid-19 pandemic plays a minor role in people’s perception of health risks.

In fact, only 0.3 percent of those questioned believe that coronavirus is the most serious illness they have known to date.

For the vast majority, the knowledge gained about Covid-19 in a relatively short period of time has enhanced people’s confidence in public health, as well as their perception of personal resilience.

READ MORE: ‘Corona is under control’: Swiss government disputes claims of second coronavirus wave

Overall, 38 percent believe that pandemics pose a significant risk to society. 

On the other hand, for 61 percent of respondents, mental illness is the most feared medical condition because too little is known about this type of disease.

Other health challenges also appear to be more important to the respondents than Covid-19  — 72 percent said that antibiotic resistance poses a great risk, while 53 percent see the biggest danger in the pollution of drinking water with hormones or pesticides.

So which specific diseases is Switzerland’s population most worried about?

The answer depends on the age group of the respondents. 

Young people said they are most afraid of mental illnesses, injuries and infections.

For older people, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and diseases of the musculoskeletal system such as arthritis and osteoporosis are the most worrisome medical conditions.








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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