health insurance For Members

Is the high cost of Swiss private health insurance worth it?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Is the high cost of Swiss private health insurance worth it?
You'll get a a room like this (and other perks too) if you splurge on private health insurance.Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on

When it comes to hospitalisations, Switzerland has different levels of health insurance, which range from basic to premium, the latter being the private coverage. What is it and do you need it?


The best way to describe these levels is to compare them to hotels: the basic insurance is a two or three-star hotel — it has everything you need but without any extras.

Private insurance, on the other hand, entitles you to a five-star accommodation.

Another way to look at it is this: basic insurance is like flying Economy: you get a seat and you get to your destination just fine, but your comfort level may be lacking. In First-Class however, you want for nothing.

The difference between the various options outlined here is the price. It’s not so much what you prefer, but what you can afford.


The basic insurance

Basic insurance — KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian —  is compulsory in Switzerland.  It is quite comprehensive and includes coverage for illness, medications, tests, maternity, physical therapy, preventive care, and many other treatments.

It also covers accidents for those who do not have accident insurance through their workplace.

Basically, whatever the doctor orders is covered by KVG / LaMal, at least partially.

It also gives you the right to choose your doctor and see a specialist without a referral, unless you took out one of the cheaper and more restrictive versions of the plan.

Overall, however, you will be given a high level of care.

The only difference between this and plans mentioned below is that if you need to be hospitalised, you will likely be put in a room with several other patients.

READ MORE: What isn't covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

Complementary insurance

In addition to KVG / LaMal, some people also buy a complementary insurance, which offers them additional benefits that the basic plan doesn’t cover.

This includes all types of alternative treatments like acupuncture, massage, foot reflexology, osteopathy, Chinese medicine, and other treatments.

This type of insurance may also cover (though party) your dental costs, gym memberships and other perks, all of which are described in this article:

Acupuncture to rolfing: What your Swiss health insurance gets you (if you pay more)

It could also include a semi-private room in a hospital (depending on the kind of supplemental policy you purchase ), and the possibility to buy an upgrade to a private room.

Private insurance

This type of coverage, on top of the basic and supplemental one, is the very best you can have: the five-star hotel / First Class on the plane analogy mentioned above.

While with the basic insurance you can only be treated in public hospitals (that shouldn’t worry you though; they are very good in Switzerland), a private plan entitles you to be treated in a private clinic, where you will be put up in a private room and receive many other additional perks as well, such as choice of gourmet meals, slippers and bathrobe, and general pampering that you will most likely not get in a general ward of a public hospital.

Even more importantly, you can choose a clinic located outside your canton (which is not possible with KVG / LaMal, except for emergencies), and choose the doctor to treat you.


Given these choices, why would you not choose a private plan on top of your basic one?

In one word, cost.

As you know, premiums for the basic insurance are high, and especially so this year, when they rose by 6.6 percent on average and even more in some cantons.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why do Swiss healthcare premiums vary so much per canton?

This means that on average, and depending on your age, residence, and the deductible you chose, you probably pay between 300 and 500 francs a month for your KVG / LaMal.

Paying for private coverage on top of that will add another 500 francs at least to your monthly premium, and that is something that many people just can’t afford.

Whether or not this is feasible (and desirable) for you depends on whether you are happy flying Economy or absolutely want to sit in First Class.


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