health insurance For Members

Key deadline approaches for changing your Swiss health insurance

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Key deadline approaches for changing your Swiss health insurance
If ending your self-employment in Austria, take care to ensure that there's no gaps in your health insurance coverage, by giving SVS the right date for when you're ceasing activity. Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

Given how much more expensive Switzerland’s health insurance premiums will become in 2024, you have probably thought about finding a cheaper option. The deadline to act is approaching.


Premiums for the obligatory (KVG / LaMal) health insurance will be 8.7 percent higher from January 1st. 

That’s the national average; as each canton sets its own rates, the cost may be even higher in your region. For instance, Ticino residents will experience the highest increase — 10.5 percent.

Premiums in a number of other cantons will also exceed the 8.7-percent national average — for instance, Zug (10.2), Nidwalden and Thurgau (9.5), Vaud (9,9); Geneva (9,1); and Neuchâtel (9.1).

You have received a letter from your insurance company by now with your new rates. If you find them too expensive and want to switch to another provider (or stay with the same one but change the policy type or the co-pay deductible), you must do so now, if you haven’t already.

The deadline for doing so (and notifying your provider of changes) is Thursday November 30th.

READ ALSO: The Swiss health insurance carriers with the lowest rates in 2024 

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 — your current carrier won’t cancel the existing policy if you don’t have another one in place.

That’s because 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.

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

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


How can you save money on a health insurance policy?

Hopefully, you have done so already but if not, you must really hurry to get this done in the little time that you have left.

These are the less expensive health insurance alternatives:

Health maintenance organisation (HMO)

Under this model, policyholders are required to consult a particular HMO practice. Two disadvantages of this alternative is a limited choice of doctors and you also need a referral to see a specialist.

However, the benefit is a premium reduction of up to 25 percent compared to the conventional insurance.

Family doctor model

Your family doctor, a general practitioner, will be designated by your insurance company and will be in charge of all your medical treatment.

He or she will refer you to a specialist if necessary. 

If you opt for this option, you could save 20 percent on your insurance.

The Telmed alternative

If you choose this option, you have to call a telephone service and get a referral to a doctor or hospital.

This does not apply to medical emergencies and other exceptions, such as eye exams and annual gynaecological check-ups.

Total savings could range between 15 and 20 percent. 


Can increasing your deductible save you money?

In theory, yes.

In Switzerland, the deductible (franchise) ranges from 300 to 2,500 francs. (There are various other amounts in between as well, but these two are the most common).

The lower your deductible, the higher your premiums, and vice-versa.

Whichever amount you choose, you will have to pay it yourself before you can claim benefits from the insurance provider.

If you are young, healthy, hardly ever get ill, and don’t take any expensive medications, then you can save substantially with the highest franchise.

Keep in mind, however, that if you choose the highest deductible and end up needing medical care, you will have to pay a greater proportion of the costs.

Those are the facts, but there are other factors to consider as well before you choose your deductible.

Crunch the numbers

Aside from the deductible amount, there is also co-insurance — the money you pay out of pocket towards health insurance costs — 10 percent in total.

In other words, after you use up your franchise, you still have to pay 10 percent of the cost for medical treatment and drugs (though different rules apply to children, accidents, and maternity).

The co-insurance cost is capped at 700 francs a year, meaning that even if you have frequent, and costly, medical procedures, you will not be charged the 10-percent co-pay after you reach the 700-franc mark.

So when you sit down to figure out which franchise makes most financial sense for you, this is the thing to remember:

If you choose the highest, that is, the 2,500-franc deductible, add to it the 700-franc co-insurance cost. This means that on top of your monthly premiums, you should put aside 3,200 francs a year per adult, to be used toward health costs.

Conversely, if you have a 300-franc deductible, and add the 700-franc co-pay, then you should have 1,000 francs available each year to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses.


And remember…

Not taking out health insurance to save money is not an option — in essence you’d be breaking the law, as KVG / LaMal is compulsory. 

However, if premiums add up to more than 10 percent of your (individual or family) income, you can ask your canton for help.

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.
READ ALSO: How do I apply for healthcare benefits in Switzerland?


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