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HEALTH INSURANCE

What you should know about Swiss health insurance comparison sites

Premium comparators promise to help policyholders find the best rates for Switzerland’s health insurance premiums. But some sites present inaccurate information, while others provide no comparison at all.

What you should know about Swiss health insurance comparison sites
Some premium comparison sites in Switzerland are deceptive. Photo: Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

Health insurance premiums for the compulsory (KVG / LaMal) coverage are set to increase by 6.6 percent on average in 2023 — and in some cantons by even more.

For instance, the highest, above-national-average premiums will hit Neuchâtel (+9.5 percent), Appenzell Innerrhoden (9.3 percent), and Ticino (9.2 percent).

Residents of Zurich will see their premiums increase by 7 percent.

READ MORE: Which Swiss cantons will see the biggest increase in health insurance premiums?

The decision to switch to another carrier must be made before November 30th, so many policyholders may be looking for cheaper rates right now.

Various Swiss sites provide what they say are “comparisons” of rates offered by different insurance carriers, so that consumers can choose whichever option is best for them.

But as a recent consumer report by RTS public broadcaster revealed, “these sites are not always reliable and the results vary from one platform to another”.

The report analysed 16 such platforms.

However, “despite their appearance, nine of the platforms in question offer no comparison. They simply collect user data, often with a view to transmitting it to a broker who can use it to offer insurance”, RTS reported.

Who are the worst ‘offenders’?

The RTS has identified three: comparativecaisse Maladie.ch, OffresCaisse Maladie.ch, and Visionna.ch.

According to the report, Groupe Mutuel insurance company “is hiding behind each of these sites”.

After the broadcast, Groupe Mutuel suspended these websites, before putting them back online in modified versions.

“We immediately demanded an overhaul of the websites concerned from our external marketing agencies, so that the content is more explicit and to avoid any confusion”, the company said, apologizing to consumers “who would have felt misinformed”.

‘Deception’

While there is no actual proof— only suspicions — that companies provide flawed comparisons for their own benefit, “if a platform, which is supposed to represent several or all insurers, represents only one, there may be deception”, according to State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO), which monitors these activities.

In fact, the Groupe Mutuel is not the only carrier found to engage in this practice.

“When these sites are run by brokerage companies, we know that they sign contracts with certain health insurance companies which need, for various reasons, to attract new customers”, said Yannis Papadaniel, head of the health sector at the FRC consumer federation.

“These platforms will highlight the insurance products with which the brokers have signed a contract. However, these products or these models are not necessarily those which will best meet customers’ needs”, he added.

In other words, they are not only inaccurate, but also biased.

Who can you trust?

Not all such platforms are deceptive, however.

This official government site has the latest, and accurate, information about various rates.

Also, the online comparator on the FRC site is reliable and impartial.

Two consumer platforms, Comparis and Bonus, are also helpful sources, though they do have adverts for insurance companies.

Both do, however, let consumers know that these are paid advertisements, rather than their own recommendations.

READ MORE: How people in Switzerland can save money on healthcare

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For members

HEALTH INSURANCE

REMINDER: Key tips on changing your Swiss health insurance as deadline nears

If you are unsatisfied with your health insurance plan or want to take out a cheaper one, you need to act fast — the November 30th deadline is fast approaching. Here are a few last-minute tips.

REMINDER: Key tips on changing your Swiss health insurance as deadline nears

What’s happening?

Switzerland’s world-class healthcare system comes with a price, but while most options are costly, choosing the right plan can save you hundreds of francs per month. 

This is all the more relevant now, as the cost of premiums for the compulsory (KVG / LaMal) coverage is set to increase by 6.6 percent on average in 2023 — and in some cantons by even more.

For instance, the highest, above-national-average premiums will hit Neuchâtel (+9.5 percent), Appenzell Innerrhoden (+9.3 percent), and Ticino (+9.2 percent).

Residents of Zurich will see their premiums increase by 7 percent.

READ MORE: Which Swiss cantons will see the biggest increase in health insurance premiums?

Rates are set by the cantons, but while changing your place of residence just to get a cheaper health insurance may not be a viable option, in many cases, you can get the same benefits as you currently get for a lower price just by changing your carriers — not cantons.

However, f you want to switch your provider for 2023, you must do this by November 30th.

This can be the case particularly for foreigners in Switzerland, who may have come to the country and been signed up for an insurance plan – for instance through recommendations from friends or workmates – without properly knowing the ins and outs of the healthcare system. 

The following guide provides info on how to change your healthcare provider, but keep in mind that if you want to cancel your current plan and switch to another one, you must notify your carrier, by registered post, by November 30th at the latest.

However, there is a certain process you must follow if you are changing carriers.

This is what you should do

If you do decide to part ways with your current provider, make sure you have another policy in its place before making the switch. 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.

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.

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

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

READ MORE: How to change your health insurance carrier in Switzerland 

How do you find a cheaper plan?

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

These are the less expensive 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 gynecological check-ups.

Total savings could range between 15 and 20 percent. 

Increase your deductible

In Switzerland, the deductible (franchise) ranges from 300 to 2,500 francs.

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

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.

Pay the premiums in one lump sum

Most insurance carriers will give you a 2-percent reduction if you pay your premiums upfront rather than on monthly basis.

So if you want to keep your current plan, this may be a good cost-cutting option, provided you can pay the hefty amount in one lump sum.

Keep in mind that November 30th is the deadline not only for switching from one insurance carrier to another, but also for notifying your current company about the changes you want to make to your deductible or any other tweaks to your policy.

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

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