Reader question: How do I apply for healthcare benefits in Switzerland?
With the cost of Swiss health insurance set to rise substantially next year, many households will be hard pressed to pay for the monthly premiums. But some may be able to get financial aid.
Switzerland has an excellent healthcare system, but it certainly doesn’t come cheap.
Its cost has risen over the past 20 years at twice the rate of economic growth, resulting in health insurance premiums that are 90 percent higher today than in 2002.
This has become even clearer in September, when Health Minister Alain Berset announced that premiums will jump by 6.6 percent on average in 2023 — the sharpest hike in two decades.
While premiums will go up throughout Switzerland, residents of some cantons will have to pay more for healthcare than their counterparts in others.
The highest, above-national-average premiums will hit Neuchâtel (+9.5 percent), Appenzell Innerrhoden (9.3 percent), and Ticino (9.2 percent).
As stated in the Swiss Federal Health Insurance Act of 1994, which made the basic health coverage ((KVG / LaMal) compulsory for every resident, the cost of insurance should not exceed 8 percent of a family or individual income.
However, according to a new study by the Federal Office of Public Health, households in certain Swiss regions spend much more —between 14 and 27 percent of their earnings — to pay for the premiums.
The study was, however, carried out before the announcement of premium hikes, so households will have to dig even deeper into their pockets to pay for health costs.
What are health subsidies and who is eligible to receive them?
Subsidies are basically reductions in healthcare premiums.
If these premiums eat up at least the aforementioned 8 percent of your income, you qualify for this aid. Before deciding whether you receive the assistance, however, your canton of residence will look not only at your earnings, but at any other financial assets you hold as well as .
So if your income is low but you have plenty of money in the bank in the form of savings or other investments, you will not qualify.
Generally speaking, anyone who is a low earner or has a large number of children, could be eligible for subsidised premiums, though criteria, as well as amounts, may vary from one canton to another.
Note, however, that state subsidies apply only to the obligatory KVG / LaMal insurance, not to any supplemental polices you buy.
How to apply for these benefits?
This process depends on the canton where you live; in all cases, however, it is based on your most current tax declaration, which allows the authorities to see not only how much you earn and how many children you have, but also your total assets.
Some cantons will notify those who are eligible automatically when you file your tax return. In others, you must apply for the reduction yourself every year.
This is a list of all the cantonal authorities responsible for subsidies.
What documents must you provide?
When applying, send in the following:
- Your last tax decision
- Your Swiss identity card or your residence permit, as well as those of other members of your family
- Health insurance policy for you and other members of the household
Some cantons may require other documents as well so inform yourself ahead of time.
If your request for a subsidy is approved, your will not receive any money yourself. Rather, the canton will pay directly to your health insurance carrier.