Health care in Switzerland
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Health in Switzerland

For any person who wishes to take up residency in Switzerland, he or she will have to be covered by some form of medical insurance by the third month of arrival.  Sometimes, documentation proof of your insurance cover can be expected by the authority.  If you have been working in Switzerland for no longer than three months, and you are not able to show any proof of insurance from your home country, you will be compelled to take up a Swiss insurance.

Under the local legislation, there are provisions whereby a person could be exempted from any medical insurance cover in Switzerland.  The provisions are:


·                     If you can show proof that you are covered by insurance bought in your home country, and the insurance provides you with similar coverage to that of a basic insurance scheme you can find in Switzerland.

·                     If a person travels to Switzerland as part of an exchange or other international program (e.g. overseas students, interns, and scientists).  If that being the case, the organizer or your employer would have to undertake to bear all medical costs incurred by you during your stay in Switzerland.

·                     If you have been in Switzerland for business trip and it is meant for a short stay.

·                     If you have a diplomatic license or you are employed by an international organization.


Basic Swiss health insurance cover


Basic sickness insurance is commonly available to the many public and private insurance companies, and the public enjoys complete freedom in what to choose.  Insurance benefits are more or less the same across providers but do expect variations in premiums, and sometimes the difference is a lot.


Take notice that local legislation does not require state or private employer to provide basic sickness insurance coverage for people under its payroll.  It is up to every individual to take up the responsibility to make arrangement for the necessary coverage.  Essentially, individual is left with the choice on which insurance provider to go for, unless your employer happens to have an existing arrangement with certain insurance company and the corresponding coverage provided is partly funded by your employer (this happens only rarely).  In which case, your insurance cover is taken care of by that specific insurance company.


In Switzerland, individual risk profile, instead of income level, is the major criteria considered when it comes to calculation of insurance premiums.  Nevertheless, the Swiss Confederation would provide subsidy to any individual or family who is deemed to be within in low income bracket.  Based on figures released in 2004, the average of basic insurance premium is close to CHF 250 a month.


The insurance schemes in Switzerland provide coverage for only individuals, and they are not extended to the families.  This particular feature makes it stand apart from other European Social Security schemes.  So it is the responsibility of each individual person to make sure that every member of the household is insured, including kids.


Changing of insurance providers is possible under local laws but it is more complicated over here, and it is common to expect about three months for the change to take effect.  If you are leaving Switzerland for at least a fair duration of time, it is advisable that you send in the cancellation notice one months in advance.


The benefits of the Swiss insurance schemes


The mandatory sickness insurance covers medical related services that revolve around illnesses, accidents (when it is not covered by an accident insurance policy) and maternity.  Specifically they are the in-and out-patient medical treatment, and prescription drugs from the hospitals and clinics.


When a resident is only protected by a compulsory basic insurance scheme, it is necessary for that person to contribute to your annual medical fund, which is kept to a certain limit every year.  This particular tax is computed as a percentage point to your annual medical costs, and it has an upper ceiling to it.  In 2004, this limit was CHF 300/year.  Individual has flexibility in deciding how much do you want to contribute to this tax; the higher the contribution, the lower your money insurance premiums (but you are taking a chance on you are not going to be as susceptible to sickness that particular year).  In fact, insurance providers generally lower the premiums when you haven't been incurring any significant costs.


Additionally, dental cover does not fall under the basic insurance scheme.  Separate arrangement would have to be made if one would like to enjoy dental benefits.  Dental cover is a common offer among insurance companies here.  Chances are the one you are subscribing to for your basic insurance scheme would be able to provide such policy for you.


Additional Swiss insurance


Close to half of the population in Switzerland often opt for additional benefits in the insurance cover.  This would facilitate more flexibilities, like a more comfortable hospital stay when admitted, or a wider coverage of sicknesse.  However, there is a fundamental difference between basic insurance and additional insurance.  Unlike basic insurance, insurance providers have every right to decide if they are going to accept application for additional insurance. Or they may also apply any additional condition before they agree to take on additional insurance.  Private medical and additional dental cover are subject to a three-month qualifying period before they are to take effect.

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