Swiss healthcare insurance
If you reached this post about Swiss healthcare, you are probably on one of the below scenarios:
✔ you need to subscribe a healthcare insurance
✔ you have a healthcare insurance and you want to know how to use it better, yes you can!
✔ you are really interested in alternative medicine and you want to learn more about it, you are one of us
Congrats! You arrived at the right place, particularly if you are on the third scenario. We will show you what you need to know about health insurances and we will give you a few tips along the way so you get more from those CHFs that go to your healthcare insurer every month.
With this post we want to give you a global view of the healthcare insurance in Switzerland. We will explain how is structured, why there are so many insurers and how you can compare the different offers to choose the best one for you.
Quoting Blaise Pascal, we wrote a long article because we didn’t have the time to write a shorter one. However, if you only have one minute now, we have a few links below for you to click.
- How to choose your compulsory healthcare insurance (brief and easy)
- Alternative medicine in Switzerland from A to Z (long and thrilling)
- Alternative medicine comparison: prices, deductibles, coverage and more. How to choose your complementary insurance (quite useful)
If you want to have the whole picture, then keep reading.
Healthcare insurance in Switzerland, let’s talk business
The Swiss Insurance Association says that the total bill for healthcare in Switzerland is at 78 million CHF. The RTS (Radio Televison Suisse) says it’s more than 800 CHF/month for every one of us and close to 10% GDP. No matter which source you choose, one thing is clear, that’s a lot of money.
A big part of the above costs are the healthcare insurances. You are probably not used to pay directly for your healthcare, in your country the state provides healthcare and you never asked yourself if that is expensive or not. However, you know one thing, the prices you are getting for a healthcare insurance in Switzerland look a bit ridiculous.
If you are a fresh expat you may still be on the comparison mode, that mindset in which everything looks so expensive. A pint for 7CHF, a pizza for 20CHF, we have expats among us, we’ve been there! You look at your salary and you look at how much you need to pay for the insurance and once again you think, this is kind of expensive.
If you give it a peaceful thought also in the UK, Spain, Italy or Portugal healthcare eats a big part of your salary. Big part of your salary goes to tax and a respectable part of your tax goes to healthcare. The difference is that in Switzerland we do not have a public entity assuring you the healthcare service out of your tax; this makes it a bit more complex.
Am I paying too much for my healthcare insurance?
That’s an interesting discussion and it’s been in the media for a while. When you see the insurance premiums it is easy to think that the insurers are having a great time. However the healthcare insurance business is not the green field you may think.
We do not want to review the healthcare business here. But we think you may want to know that the trend of the last years is that the insurers are on the red numbers for the basic insurance and making some profits with complementary services (we explain the difference between these two a few lines later).
In our opinion this shows an incorrect approach to healthcare and this is where we hope we can help you or at least to make you think a bit.
The costs of a drug treatment for diabetes (basic insurance reimbursement) are higher than the costs of a few sessions of a nutri-therapist (complementary insurance reimbursement) that can help you to understand how to eat better and healthier and consequently developing diabetes. The medicine of illness is always more expensive than the medicine of prevention and health.
As of today traditional medicine practices are designed as an answer to sickness, however alternative medicine has a clear focus on prevention and wellness. We think that if everyone of us takes a bit of time to learn about complementary medicine and how to integrate it to his life, the costs of healthcare will be considerably cut.
We want to help you to integrate complementary medicine in your life. Indeed, we created this site only for that.
Healthcare Insurance “made in Switzerland”: basic and complementary
Swiss approach to healthcare insurance is divided in two pillars, the basic and the complementary services.
In many countries the state is providing healthcare services and when you go to the hospital you never see a bill. The Swiss approach to healthcare is a bit more complex mixing public and private politics; however that will need a long discussion we will focus on the essential.
The federal government published a law in 1994 (effective 1996) declaring that every person living in Switzerland must have healthcare insurance providing basic services. However, the government is not providing healthcare services so you need to get a private insurance. The basic services that every insurer has to offer are covered by the LAMal regulation. Moreover, the Swiss government also said how much of the treatment the insurer should pay. Consequently, all offers of basic insurance cover the same services.
Nevertheless if you have a bit of experience with healthcare insurance you know that there are many insurers and each of them has several offers.
If no matter which provider you choose, the services are the same, what is the big deal? Why does it look so complex? Why so many offers?
The answer to this question is on two parts. First, the customer service is not the same for every provider (as with any other kind of insurance). We give more details on this post.
Second, for any other service not included on the basic insurance LAMal everything is left to the private sector. These are called complementary services. You are not enforced by law to have a complementary healthcare insurance but there are opportunities to seize on this area.
The complementary services in Switzerland
Complementary services are those that get you any other right than the specified on the regulation we mentioned above. There are many of them; for example, getting a private room on the hospital, being able to choose which specialist is performing the surgery, choosing a private clinic, and many more. We wrote another post with a global and structured view of the benefits you can add to your insurance.
If we trust Wikipedia there are a few less than 100 insurers for healthcare in Switzerland. If you are curious the official list is here and it’s a long one. In any case there are enough offers to ruin a few evenings if you want to compare them all.
What doesn’t help is that most insurers have a secrecy attitude around what they offer. If you want to know the details about their offer you need to meet them personally or schedule a call and the way they will explain it to you is not that straight forward.
We do not want to talk about all complementary services; we are all about alternative medicine :).
We think that alternative medicine is the future of healthcare. Meditation, yoga, nutrition, massages, all these practices are the way for a healthy life on the whole sense of the word and not just as an absence of illness.
We will explain you how they integrate on the Swiss healthcare system and how you can profit of an enormous choice of services for a few francs a month. We did all the job of comparing the offers and we put all the info in a nice table at the end of this post.
What is alternative medicine?
It is easier to talk about alternative medicine than providing a definition. There is nothing like a list or a description of what alternative medicine is. You will find lists and definitions in books, on the net or even in official organisms as the World Health Organization. They published a long and thorough review on it; you can read a brief of their conclusion for Switzerland on this post.
As there isn’t any definition for alternative medicine, we have created our own. In MedTip we like to see alternative medicine as the free and spontaneous answer from society to its own uncovered well-being needs.
We think that all the practices that today fall in the alternative medicine umbrella were developed by someone (see group of people) who had the intention to help with his knowledge. This philanthropic help evolved naturally to become a new practice. These practices not being recognized by the State as a branch of traditional medicine were called alternative or complementary medicine.
From the most academic practices as osteopathy or herbal medicine to more energy-oriented disciplines as acupuncture or shiatsu, we all have heard about these practices. They are as old as traditional medicine, we know they can bring big benefits to our lives and they are slowly gaining ground on the state dictated practices.
We are slowly changing our understanding of medicine, as we anticipated before we leave behind the medicine of illness to embrace the medicine or prevention and wellness. In this new path, alternative medicine will play a major role.
What is alternative medicine in Switzerland?
As of today 4 practices considered as alternative medicine are recognized and reimbursed* in LAMal the mandatory Swiss health insurance. These practices are:
* Small print clause, the 4 disciplines above are reimbursed solely if dispensed by a doctor who has followed the traditional medicine studies and has also obtained a diploma recognized by FMH (Swiss Medical Organization) on any of those four practices. That leaves you with very few options to get reimbursed by the basic insurance. But you are not alone; we will help you with it.
Other practices are calling for the same kind of recognition as they are making their way to the hospitals like hypnosis at the Hospital Universtaire de Genève. We wrote another post that explains how the Swiss people pushed for this recognition Alternative Medicine in Switzerland from A to Z.
How do I access to complementary medicine in Switzerland?
Now the good news! Aside the 4 practices we discussed you can get reimbursement for yoga, meditation, hypnosis, nutrition, massages, energetic therapies and many, really many more techniques! And yes, it only costs a few francs a month.
This is a good opportunity to focus on your well-being without having to put a price to your health, something that unfortunately most of us do, at least until we have a serious symptom.
Reimbursement for complementary medicine is pretty easy.
- You find the practice you would like to try. You can use our site for that.
- You call your insurance to clear out the reimbursement. We strongly recommend that
- You pay the bill and send it to your insurer for reimbursement
Complementary services can do a lot to improve your health, your soul and your life in general. However prior to get this service, you need to subscribe insurance for alternative medicine and survive to the insurance jungle, and believe us, it is an unpleasant one.
Alternative medicine reimbursement compared. Deductibles, limits, practitioners, prices and more
If you already spoke with an insurer adviser either you are seduced by the latest sales seduction techniques (selling is a tough job) either you are completely confused about what a complementary insurance is and the reimbursement policy.
No matter where you sit, we will help you to focus on the essential. In fact,when it comes to comparing offers you only need to focus on 5 points.
- Reimbursement rate. Not all offers reimburse the same amount of a treatment.
- Deductible. Some insurance offers will ask you to pay the full treatment cost up to a certain amount (i.e. 500 CHF) and then start reimbursing.
- Expenses Limit. Some insurance offers have a limit, out of which they will not reimburse you (i.e. 3000CHF).
- How easy is to get a list of therapies and therapist that are reimbursed and how extensive is this list.
- Price. Obviously. In fact, this should be the less important of the criteria. Most offers are in the range of 25 to 40 CHF a month. This is probably less than what you pay for your phone subscription. Now, what is more important your health or your phone? We know you may not want to answer that 😀
You can find the information you need to compare the different offers in the table below. We cannot give you a price, but we will give you an indication of where the offer sits compared with the rest.
Our final Tips
- Choose an offer without deductible, if you need to pay 4 or 5 CHF more a month, just do it! You still win at the end of the year ;).
- Choose a provider that has a list of practitioners that you can consult easily, this makes the initial research easier.
- Pay attention to the expenses limit. A normal session of most practices will cost you between 80 and 200 CHF, if your limit is 1000 CHF you will get there quickly.
- Prior to consulting any practitioner do always call the insurer to ask if he is reimbursed, even if you see it on the list. This will avoid surprises.
You can swipe the table up, down, left and right. The insurance offers are very complex, we know there are scenarios that may not be covered below, still we think it is a good table to start with 🙂
| GROUPE CSS*||75%||NO|| ||Limited( list with a subset of the RME methods). download here||$$$|
| SWICA *|| ||NO||NO|| extensive list|
| EGK|| 3 methods/year|
12 sessions per method
70 CHF /session
| ||see reimbursement||call at 032 623 64 80||$$$|
|SANITAS CLASSIC||80%||NO||5000|| extensive list|
|GROUPE MUTUELLE BONUS||90%||150||NO||all of this||$$$$|
|GROUPE MUTUELLE ALTERNA||80%||NO||NO|| very limited |
| GROUPE MUTUELLE SOINS COMPLEMENTAIRES||70 CHF / session||choice between 0 and 50 CHF|| ||all of this||$$$|
| GROUPE MUTUELLE COMBINEE GLOBAL||70 CHF / session||choice between 0 and 150 CHF|| ||all of this||$$$|
| ASSURA|| ||200 CHF|| || ||$|
| VISANA*||90%||NO|| || extensive list|
| HELSANA||75%||NO||NO||call at 0844 80 81 82 details||$$|
Do you have any question you like us to answer? You don’t find your insurer on the list? Anything you want to share with us? Comment it here and we will answer it
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