Health insurers

Health insurance comparisons – how does Comparis work?

COMPARIS
| By Felix Schneuwly |
Source: iStock.com / hapecharge

Comparis is an independent online comparison service. It finances its health insurance comparison service by charging health insurers for quote requests submitted by users, as well as by selling advertising space, such as banners, on its website. No health insurer can buy itself a good position in the results table.

Consumers often wonder how Comparis finances its health insurance comparison service and whether insurers can buy themselves a prominent position in the results list. Depending on the area, the quote request service provided by Comparis costs at least 30 francs per request and is the same for all providers in the same industry sector.

How much does Comparis earn from its health insurance comparison service?

In 2018, Comparis generated sales revenues of some 7.6 million francs from its health insurance comparison service. The quote request system that Comparis offers is considerably cheaper for health insurers than telephone marketing and direct client consultations. Insurers can expect to pay a call centre around 100 francs for an appointment with a prospective client. The actual consultation with an agent, broker or member of the insurer's sales team costs another 100 francs, and that’s without a full comparison of all premiums.

How are the health insurance comparison results displayed?

Depending on how users sort the results page, either the insurer offering the lowest premium or the one with the best customer satisfaction rating appears at the top. Users can also choose between a standard and a full view:

  • The full view displays all the health insurers along with all the premiums that have been approved by the Federal Office of Public Health.
  • The standard view displays the health insurer with the lowest premium as well as other premiums from insurers who accept online quote requests from Comparis.

By providing these two options, Comparis meets different user needs: the full view is for those who want all the details, while the standard view is for users who like the convenience of being able to switch insurance at the touch of a button. Compare basic health insurance here.

Does the Comparis service push up costs in the system?

The quote request system offered by Comparis is efficient and fully automated, which reduces administration costs for the health insurer. The health insurance companies pay Comparis for the use of this quote request system. Being compared in this way puts them under greater pressure to offer cheaper premiums and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, which Comparis also compares – not just premiums. It also forces insurers to focus on increasing the efficiency of their administrative activities, for example, without compromising on quality of service.

How does Comparis differ from a broker?

Comparis provides a passive source of information for people who are interested in it, and does not make anyone switch health insurance unless they actively wish to do so. Comparis does not do home consultations. Unlike a broker, Comparis is not restricted to particular insurance companies. Instead, it endeavours to provide a complete overview of the market. The users themselves then decide which deal best fits their requirements. Comparis also provides a neutrality guarantee.

How legitimate are other online premium comparison tools?

Websites promising fast health insurance comparisons crop up on a regular basis. These websites often have only one aim: to gather the address details of people seeking to switch insurance and then pass them on to brokers. So before divulging any personal details, you are advised to check the legal notice on the website.

Can a health insurer reject me?

Insurers are obliged to accept all applications for mandatory basic health insurance. No insurer can reject you, even if you frequently switch provider. They must accept you irrespective of your age or state of health. If you wish to switch to an insurer that does not accept online quote requests via Comparis, you can notify the respective insurers of your intentions in writing by registered post – one letter cancelling with your current insurer and one applying to the new insurer. The insurers must receive their letter by 30 November at the latest. All insurers must offer the same cover for mandatory basic health insurance. You can find out more here: Basic insurance – benefits under mandatory health insurance (KVG/LAMal).

Unlike with basic insurance, health insurers are not obliged to accept applications for supplemental insurance.

How can I combine basic and supplemental insurance in one comparison?

It is possible to take out basic and supplemental insurance with different providers. Comparis recommends choosing an affordable provider for basic insurance at least, because all insurers offer the same medical cover. You should therefore choose your basic insurance provider based primarily on the premium and level of customer satisfaction.

Since supplemental insurance policies vary considerably with respect to the medical services covered by individual products, it is especially important to check the details. At comparis.ch, you can carry out a combined comparison of basic and supplemental health insurance here.

Does frequently switching health insurance lead to increased healthcare costs?

No. Since the process of switching insurance at comparis.ch is automated and electronic, insurance companies save on advertising, marketing, personnel, paper and postage costs. In any case, administration costs only constitute some 5% of the premium volume. Factors that do drive up costs are increased consumption of medical services, the rising cost of bureaucracy owing to misguided government incentives with respect to financing, and medical progress itself.

Which is better – competitive or national health insurance?

The broader question of whether competitive health insurance is ultimately cheaper than a monopoly has been posed many times. Swiss voters have answered yes to this question three times already, thereby rejecting national health insurance. A fourth attempt failed to reach the 100,000 signatures required for a popular initiative to be put to the vote. However, as the question keeps being asked and will no doubt be voted on a fourth time at some juncture, Comparis favours conducting a national health insurance test in a large canton first. This would then be compared with the competitive health insurance market in the rest of Switzerland. This shows that Comparis is clearly placing the interests of consumers before its own business interests.