Changing your Swiss health insurance – what, when, how?
There are many reasons why people may look to make changes to their health insurance, whether changing their deductible, the insurance model or simply changing insurer altogether. Making changes to your health insurance may seem like a lot of hassle, however it is actually more straight forward than you may think, provided the notice periods and terms are abided by.
By law, every person residing in Switzerland (with a few minor exceptions) must take out basic insurance within 3 months of taking up residence in the country. A cancellation of the basic insurance is only possible where the legal obligation of having the basic insurance according to KVG/LAMal ceases (i.e. leaving the country, in case of death). However, it is possible to change the insurance provider or the level of deductible of your policy.
Changing insurer – When?
- It is possible to change insurer for the end of a semester with 3 months notice provided you are on an ordinary deductible (CHF 300) and not on an alternative model of basic insurance (not on HMO, GP or Telemed). In this case the insurer must receive your cancellation letter by registered post before 31st March or 31st September respectively in order for the cancellation to come into effect 1st July or 1st January respectively.
- If you are on a variable deductible (any other than CHF 300) or on an alternative model of basic insurance as enumerated above, it is only possible to change insurer for the end of the year with 3 months notice.
- In the case of notification of new premiums, it is possible to change insurer for the end of the month before the new premiums come into effect, with one month’s notice, regardless whether the premiums are being increased or decreased. In general, the new premiums are communicated every year in October, which means any cancellation should be received before 30th November in order to become effective 1st January.
- If a financial dispute is in progress over unpaid premiums or cost participation, it is not possible to change insurer until full payment of outstanding amounts is made.
- All notice letters must be sent by registered post and received by the insurer within the deadlines mentioned above.
Changing deductible – When?
It is only possible to change your deductible (franchise) at the end of the year, with 1 month’s notice to the insurer in case of a decrease of franchise or the latest at the middle of December in the case of an increase of the franchise.
Changing basic insurance model– When?
- It is possible to change from the standard basic insurance model to the alternative models (HMO, GP or Telmed) at the start of any calendar month, with one month’s notice.
- It is possible to change from an alternative insurance model to the standard model only at the end of the year, with one month’s notice.
The accident cover is compulsory and is generally paid by the employer for people in gainful employment working more than 8 hours a week for the same employer or by SUVA for the unemployed. Therefore you can exclude accident insurance from your cover by notifying your insurer and providing proof of employment.
While the law sets the cancellation notices for the basic insurance, for complementary insurance they all vary from one insurer to another and from one insurance product to another. All this information is set in the terms and conditions of your contract. What you need to be aware of is that generally there are minimum terms in place, that cancellations are only possible at the end of the year with minimum 3 months notice and that changes to a higher level of supplemental insurance may require additional medical questionnaires.
If you are going to be one of the approximately 15% of Swiss residents who will be changing their health insurance this year, remember to look into the best coverage option for you and your family and make sure you allow enough time for the cancellation notices. Your health is your wealth!