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EXPLAINED: How to change your health insurance carrier in Switzerland and save money

EXPLAINED: How to change your health insurance carrier in Switzerland and save money
The deadline for changing your health insurance carrier is fast approaching. Photo: AFP
If you want to switch your compulsory Swiss health policy (LaMal) from one company to another, hurry up. The deadline to do so is November 30th.

By now, you have received a letter from your insurance company, notifying you of the premium for 2021 – by law, carriers must announce the new rates to their clients no later than October 31st.

Why should you consider changing your insurance company?

Because the differences in premiums from one insurer to another can vary, and you could potentially save several hundred francs a year. So you could get the same benefits for less money. 

If you do decide to part ways with your current carrier, make sure you have another one in its place before making the switch. Health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland for every resident, whether Swiss or foreign, so you can't be without coverage even for a short period of time.

How should you go about cancelling your policy?

As stated above, the insurance carrier must receive your termination letter, sent by registered mail, no later than November 30th.

You must attach proof that you have taken out a new insurance policy.

Any outstanding monthly premiums must be paid before you can make the switch.

You can use these templates in German, French, or Italian to create the cancellation letter.

By the way, companies can't deny basic coverage to anyone, regardless of age or medical condition.

READ MORE: Everything that changes in Switzerland in November 2020 

Are premiums the same all over Switzerland?

No. Prices differ, depending on your canton of residence – their health infrastructure and government funding determine the cost.

Generally speaking, Basel, Geneva and Vaud have the highest premiums, while Appenzell-Innerrhoden, Nidwalden, Uri, Zug and Obwalden are the cheapest.

Rates also depend on what deductible you choose (they range from 300 to 2500 francs). The lower the deductible, the higher the premium.

How are premiums determined each year?

They are calculated by the insurers but must be approved by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

“Premiums are only approved if they comply with the statutory requirements and cover costs. Premiums must not, however, exceed costs by a disproportionate amount or give rise to excessive reserves,” FOPH said.

“Excessive reserves” are not allowed because insurance companies are not permitted to profit from the compulsory insurance.

They can, however, make profit from optional supplemental plans that offer additional services not covered by basic insurance, such as alternative medicine treatments.

How do 2021 rates compare to previous years'?

The good news is the increase is well below the average of 3.7 percent imposed since the mandatory insurance went into effect in 1994.

According to FOPH, the median premiums for adults and young people up to age 26 will go up by 0.4 percent, for a monthly payment of 375.40 francs and 265.60 francs, respectively.

The average premium for children will drop slightly by 0.1 percent to 99.70.

Where will premiums be highest and lowest?

The cantons of Ticino and Jura will experience the largest hikes – 2.1 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Premiums in Valais will increase by 1.6 percent on average, and in Lucerne, 1.4 percent.

People in Fribourg and Geneva will have to pay 0.6 percent more, and in Vaud, 0.9 percent.

On the other hand, premiums for residents of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Zurich, and Neuchâtel will actually decrease – by 1.6 percent, 0.7 percent, and 0.2 percent, respectively.

All these numbers are average and will go up or down depending on the deductible amount chosen.


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