Why you will pay more for certain drugs in Switzerland 2024?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why you will pay more for certain drugs in Switzerland 2024?
You will have to pay more for branded meds in 2024. Photo: Pixabay

From January 1st 2024, your out-of-pocket expenses for brand-name drugs in Switzerland will increase sharply. But there is a way to keep your expenses down — and still stay healthy.


Currently, your co-payment for medications under the compulsory health insurance (KVG / LaMAL) is 10 percent. The bulk of the cost — that is, 90 percent — is paid for by your insurance company.

In some cases, specifically when a generic drug is available but you still opt for a brand-name medication, you could pay 20 percent of the cost yourself.

But that is about to change.

In order to reduce soaring health costs, which drive health insurance premiums upwards, the out-of-the-pocket amount for branded (also called ‘original’) medications will rise to 40 percent, in cases where a generic alternative, which contains the same active ingredient, is available instead.

The same rule will apply to to biosimilars — that is, products that imitate biological drugs.

Can you still choose brand original drugs over generics?

Yes, you are free to decide what medicines to take, but keep in mind that your co-pay will be much higher.

Under some circumstances, however, your health insurance company will continue to pay 90 percent of the cost of the branded drug — for instance, if your doctor specifically prescribes it for medical reasons, and justifies it accordingly.

But if you make this decision unilaterally yourself, then only 60 percent of the cost will be paid for, with the remaining 40 percent coming out of your pocket.


Why is this measure coming into effect?

Generic drugs, which are cheaper than original ones, are under-used in Switzerland.

According to data from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), generics represent 83 percent of drug sales in Germany, and 78 percent in the Netherlands.

In Switzerland, on the other hand, that number is only 22 percent.

Given the soaring healthcare costs, however, the Federal Council wants to make the use of generics more widespread — a move that could potentially save 250 million francs a year.


Are generics as effective as branded medicines?

Health experts say generic drugs are equivalent to the originals in terms of quantity, dosage, composition, and formulation.

Before being brought to Swiss market, they are tested in the same way as original medications, and must be approved by the drug regulatory agency Swissmedic.

Whether or not you should switch from branded to generic medication depends on your doctor’s recommendation — and on your wallet.


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