International Health Insurance Options Before You Relocate to Switzerland

Health Insurance in Switzerland is Mandatory

The Health Insurance Act ( Krankenversicherungsgesetz - KVG) makes basic health insurance ( Grundversicherung) mandatory for every person living in Switzerland. The following persons may be exempted from procuring basic insurance:

  • Those with an obligatory health insurance scheme in their home country, covering the same medical cost as the basic insurance scheme in Switzerland.
  • Students, interns, scientists and others who are in Switzerland on an exchange or other international program, where the institution or employer has to guarantee that all their medical costs during their stay in Switzerland will be reimbursed and that all expenses not covered by an insurance scheme will be paid.
  • Employees of foreign companies resident in Switzerland for a short time
  • Diplomats or employees of international organizations.

You can shop around for insurance cover options at  Remember, Swiss insurance schemes are unlike other European insurance schemes.  They cover individuals, not families.  Hence you will have to insure every member of your family separately. 

Getting Basic Health Insurance Abroad

Swiss employers do not usually arrange sickness insurance for employees.  Hence, you will have to contact insurers yourself.  Basic sickness insurance options are provided by several public and private insurance providers. If your employer has an agreement with a specified insurer only then will you be forced to choose a specific provider. 

Health insurance premiums in Switzerland are not income dependent but are calculated on the basis of the personal risk profile of the insured.  The Swiss Confederation subsidizes premiums for low-income individuals/families, however. 

No restrictions are applicable on changing insurance companies.  The cancellation period for basic insurance is 3 months. You should cancel your insurance with at least one month’s notice before leaving the country.

Benefits of Basic Sickness Insurance

Compulsory sickness insurance includes medical services in connection with sickness, accidents (if not covered by an accident insurance policy), maternity, in- and out-patient medical treatment, and medication prescribed by a doctor.

If covered only by compulsory basic insurance scheme, you will have to make a contribution towards your total annual medical cost, up to a certain limit per year. This ‘franchise’ will be calculated as a percentage of your total annual medical costs and capped at a yearly limit.

You could also choose to pay a higher yearly franchise and lower your monthly insurance premiums.  Some insurance companies also lower your monthly premiums in case you have not incurred any costs for a certain period. 

The basic insurance scheme does not cover dental treatment and you will need to purchase additional dental insurance ( Zahnarztversicherung, /assurance dentaire). 

Additional Insurance

Most Swiss people choose to top-up their insurance cover in order to have more comfortable hospital accommodation or a wider choice of treatments.  As opposed to basic insurance, insurers may often refuse applicants for additional insurance or accept them subject to certain conditions.  Private medical care and additional dental cover may become effective only after a three-month qualifying period.