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From birth or arrival in Switzerland, you have three months within which to obtain compulsory health insurance. During this period you are already insured. You are free to choose a health insurance company on the list of authorised companies. In exceptional cases, you are not required to take out insurance.
Every insured person pays a monthly premium to the insurance company. The amount of the premium varies from insurer to insurer and from canton to canton. Children up to the age of 18 pay lower premiums. People on low incomes may be entitled to a premium reduction.
If you require treatment, you will have to pay part of the costs. Your share is made up of a deductible, the retention fee and a contribution to the cost of a hospital stay.
The deductible (often referred to in Switzerland as the "franchise") is the amount (CHF 300 for adults; children up to the age of 18 do not pay a deductible) that you have to pay towards your treatment costs every year. Only after this amount has been reached does the insurance company start to pay out. If you want to reduce your premium, you are free to increase your deductible.
Even after the deductible has been exceeded, you still have to pay 10 per cent of any treatment costs. However, this charge, often referred to as a "retention fee", amounts to a maximum each year of CHF 700 for adults and CHF 350 for children.
The hospital contribution amounts to CHF 15 per day spent at the hospital. Children, young adults in education or training and women whose maternity benefits are fully covered do not pay any hospital contribution.
When a doctor prescribes treatment that is not covered by the basic insurance, he or she must inform you about it. However, if you have any doubts, it is worth checking with your health insurance company.
In principle, compulsory health insurance covers the costs of the examination and treatment of a medical condition and its consequences. The Federal Office of Public Health provides detailed information on the services under compulsory health insurance.