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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

What to do if you haven’t yet received your Swiss health insurance card

Switzerland is late in issuing health insurance cards for new policy holders or those who have switched their providers at the end of 2022. What should you do if you need medical help before your new card arrives?

What to do if you haven’t yet received your Swiss health insurance card

When you buy a health insurance policy in Switzerland from any of the dozens of approved providers, you will receive a credit card-sized card to be used as proof of insurance. Aside from your name, date of birth, and AHV / AVS number, the card also includes the name of your insurance company, client number, and the date of validity.

You will have to present this card each time you seek medical treatment that is included under the obligatory KVG / LaMal scheme.

Residents of Switzerland are allowed to change their compulsory health insurance coverage from one provider to another by November 30th, to go into effect from January of the following year.

The sharp increase in the cost of the health insurance in 2023 — 6.6 percent on average, but higher in some cantons — has prompted many people to look for cheaper options and change their carriers.

READ MORE: Millions of Swiss residents switch health insurance amid rising costs

This massive switch has caused a backlog in the production of new insurance cards, which means that many policy holders have not yet received theirs.

The cards for all insurance carriers are issued by a subsidiary of the Santésuisse health insurance association, whose spokesperson, Manuel Ackermann, said that the delay is caused by the “extraordinarily large number” — three times as many as in an average year — of switches.

He did not specify how much longer is needed to issue and send out all the cards.

What should you do if you haven’t yet received your card?

Say you need medical help, or another situation arises where proof of health insurance is needed — for instance, if you are applying for a new job or registering in a new municipality.

In such cases, you can present the insurance certificate letter your carrier has issued when you took up your policy.

While not having an insurance card is a minor inconvenience in Switzerland, where such a certificate can be used in the interim, it could be more of a problem when travelling in the European Union.

Under normal circumstances, if you fall ill in the EU, all you have do is present your Swiss card, which is equivalent to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This way, you can be treated and the bill will go directly to your Swiss insurance company.

However, absence of the card could mean that hospitals in those countries may not recognise the insurance certificate alone, and require Swiss residents to pay for medical care on the spot.

While not an ideal situation, you can submit the bill, along with all the required documents such as details of your treatment, to your insurer in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can my Swiss health insurance refuse to pay my medical bills?

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