The desk research required to compare health insurance providers is time-consuming and, for expats, it’s even more mind-boggling to try to figure out the important differences between the 60-plus Swiss health insurers.
Before we get into how and when to make a switch, let’s consider the reasons why you might want to do so in the first place.
Reducing the premium of basic health insurance
Every fall, Switzerland assesses the state of health insurance. Various factors contribute to the premium level of the upcoming year, and it can easily go up by several percent. Since it is up to each insurer to decide how much they want to raise their policies, you can save money by making a timely switch.
Another way to save on premiums is to change your health insurance plan. For example, you can expect a lower your premium if you are willing to accept a restriction on your choice of doctors, and most insurers will offer you a discount if you pay your premiumas a lump sum at the beginning of the year.
Changing health insurance needs
Life has a habit of changing and what you need from your Swiss health insurance will too. Sooner or later, you may want to whiten your teeth or treat yourself to a massage. Supplementary policies are often the most cost-efficient way of covering these extras.
If you want to minimize your health insurance costs, it’s good to know that supplementary policies are not tied to your basic insurance policy – so you can go ahead with whatever insurer offers you the best deal. However, also keep in mind that the issuer of your basic policy might give you a discount if you sign up with them for supplementary coverage.
Changes in family structure or primary residence
As most Swiss residents are well aware, premiums for basic health insurance vary depending on the age of the insured. Like elsewhere in Europe, the three official age groups are children up to 18 years, young adults from 19 to 25 years, and adults above 26 years.
Every time someone in your family crosses the threshold into a new age group, you should be sure to assess their basic coverage. This is particularly important if you have a teenager about to turn 18 since it means that your insurance company is no longer required by law to offer your son or daughter a reduced premium.
If you have or are about to move to another community or canton in Switzerland, this is another good opportunity to make sure you are not paying more than you need to. This is because basic health coverage and premiums vary considerably depending on where in the country you live in.
While Swiss law regulates the coverage of basic insurance, the difference between insurers often lies in the level of their service. Some of the least expensive insurers tend to outsource administrative work to their policyholders. Manually typing up health expenses and mailing in receipts is not everyone’s cup of tea – but biting the bullet could give you a much lower premium.
Many Swiss health insurers now offer online account management, health advice by chat, and even proprietary smartphone apps for scanning of invoices. These digital tools could save you a lot of time at a relatively low cost.
Switching basic health insurance providers
It’s important to understand that there are different procedures and deadlines for the termination of basic and supplementary insurance policies.
If you are hoping to switch insurance providers without having to pay penalty fees, you must terminate your basic health insurance policy and at the same time sign up for a new one before November 30, 2019. Your new policy will then come into effect on January 1, 2020.
Switching supplementary insurance plans
The termination of supplementary insurance plans depends on any contractual agreements written into the policy. Insurers can define different notice periods which you need to adhere to. Also, you may be obliged to pay termination fees.
If you are unsure whether you can benefit from switching health insurance provider, get in touch with an independent insurance advisory such as Expat Savvy for an expert assessment. Expat-Savvy helps many new and established expats to get the best deal on their Swiss health insurance. The insurance consultancy company prides itself on its ongoing relationships with clients, spanning from their first medical insurance to optimising their premiums, specialized retirement plans, and everything in between.
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Expat Savvy.