If you live in Switzerland, you must be insured with a Swiss health insurer.
Health insurance for babies, arrival from abroad
If you have just moved to Switzerland, you have three months in which to arrange health insurance cover. The same deadline applies to new-borns. You or your baby are already insured for this three-month period.
Who doesn't need health insurance?
Foreign retirees, students and diplomats do not necessarily need to take out health insurance. The relevant agency in your canton or municipality approves any exemptions.
Cross-border commuters and health insurance
As a cross-border commuter, you have the choice of taking out health insurance in Switzerland where you work, or over the border where you live.
Free choice of health insurance company
The list of authorised health insurance companies covers all insurers. You can choose any company that operates in the region where you live. Simply register, because they are required to offer everyone basic insurance.
It's also worth knowing that a child can have a different health insurer to their parents.
Terminating health insurance at year end
You can generally change your health insurer at the end of each year. To do this, you must cancel your basic insurance in writing. Your letter must reach your current health insurer by 30 November.
Your current insurer will notify you by the end of October of your premium for the next year. This is in time for you to cancel if you do not agree with it. This premium calculator (web page available in German, French and Italian) might be useful if you want to compare what different health insurers are offering.
If you have a deductible of CHF 300, you can also cancel your basic insurance with effect from the end of June. A three-month notice period applies.
Changing insurance model
You can also change your insurance model at the end of the year. To do this, your letter must reach your health insurer by the end of November. Apart from the standard model you might like to consider the following insurance models with lower premiums (web page available in German, French and Italian):
Family doctor model: you must (almost) always go to your family doctor first. They will refer you to a specialist if necessary.
HMO model: you must almost always go to a doctor in your chosen group practice (Health Maintenance Organisation) first. They will refer you to a specialist if necessary.
Telmed: before (almost) every visit to the doctor you must call a certain number for an initial medical consultation by phone.
Health insurers do not have to accept you
As a rule you will have to complete a questionnaire on your health before an insurer will approve supplementary health insurance for you. Your answers determine the conditions of acceptance. The insurer can also reject your application for supplementary insurance entirely.
Complete the questionnaire truthfully. If you give false information, your health insurer may refuse to pay your bill later on, or may exclude you from cover entirely.
Best to register before birth
If you want to take out supplementary insurance for your new baby, the best time to register them is before the birth. Most health insurers will accept the unborn child without any conditions or health questionnaire.
Parents often insure their children for dental treatment (orthodontics). This is also worth taking out early. From a certain age insurers will demand a check-up before accepting the child.
Generally a package
Supplementary insurance often comes only as a package. Check that you aren't insuring the same benefits twice, especially where travel insurance is concerned. In many cases you will find that you are already insured – via your credit card, for example, or a product with integrated travel cover.
Cancelling can be tricky
Do you really not want your supplementary cover any more? Think before you cancel it. Once you have, the health insurer does not have to accept you back. You should also find out what notice periods apply. Your insurance contract will contain the information you need, or simply ask your insurer.
Each autumn the Federal Office of Public Health posts comprehensive information on its website about new health insurance premiums and about changing insurers for the coming year.
Insurance models with lower premiums and other ways to save (web page available in German, French and Italian)
Model letters for cancelling your health insurance, changing your deductible, etc. (web page available in German, French and Italian)
Changing health insurer, deductible and insurance model – details (web page available in German, French and Italian)