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What happens if I don't renew my Swiss health insurance?

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 25 Oct, 2022 Updated Tue 25 Oct 2022 15:24 CEST
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Health insurance is not a matter of choice in Switzerland: it is compulsory. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

With the healthcare premiums in Switzerland set to soar in 2023, it's no wonder that many people would rather not pay these higher costs. But there are compelling reasons for why you have to take out insurance.

Health Minister Alain Berset caused a collective groan throughout the country on September 27th when he announced that health insurance 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), Ticino (9.2 percent), and Zurich (+7  percent), though all residents of Switzerland will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for healthcare next year.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why are Swiss health insurance premiums set to rise?

It is understandable that you would rather not pay so much money, especially as, according to a study by the Federal Office of Public Health, some households spend between 14 and 27 percent of their earnings for the premiums.

However, if you decide not to renew your current insurance or take up another one in its place, you will be breaking the law.

Health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland, with each resident required to purchase a basic plan— KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian —from one of dozens of private carriers.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

If you neglect to do so, either inadvertently or voluntarily, you will be faced with a number of consequences.

First of all, you will be sent a letter from your canton to remind you to purchase a policy; if you don’t, the government will buy one for you and send you the bill.

If you still persist in standing your ground, keep in mind that not having health insurance greatly limits the kind of medical care you’ll get. You are entitled to receive emergency care, but not any follow-up treatments, doctor’s visits, or other healthcare.

Also, not being able to show that you are insured will be a liability in other areas of your life in Switzerland as well. You won’t be able to register in your municipality, be hired for a job, or rent an apartment without having a health policy.

Are there exemptions to the healthcare rule?

Yes, you are not required to take out Swiss insurance if:

  • You are retired and get a pension exclusively in an EU or EFTA state
  • You are a cross-border worker with healthcare policy in a EU or EFTA state
  • You are a foreign student and have comparable insurance from your country
  • You work for international organisations or are a diplomat

All others must buy an insurance policy.

If you are not doing so because you simply can’t afford it, know that you can apply for a subsidy — that is, a reduction in healthcare premiums.

This is a list of all the cantonal authorities responsible for subsidies.

If approved, you will not receive any money yourself. Rather, the canton will pay directly to your health insurance carrier.

More information can be found in this article:

Reader question: How do I apply for healthcare benefits in Switzerland?



Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/10/25 15:24

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