11 burning questions: what the Swiss want to know

Premium increase, changing insurers and alternative models. There are many questions, but also just as many answers.

How reliable are cheap insurers? What happens when an insurer goes bankrupt? Can chronically ill patients switch to a cheaper insurer? There are many questions to which the Swiss want answers. Comparis expert Felix Schneuwly has been asked lots of questions on the phone, via online chat, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Here are the answers to the 11 most important and frequently asked questions:

Are there differences in the scope of services offered by different insurers when it comes to basic insurance?
No; by law, the benefits are the same everywhere. Switching is therefore not a problem.

What's the point of cheap insurers?
Even so-called cheap insurers offer the exact same benefits as expensive insurers. The advantage is that they focus on cheap sales channels, for example the Internet. This reduces their costs, and they pass the savings on to their clients in the form of lower premiums.

Why is my premium increase higher than the average value that I saw in the newspaper?
The media often show an average value that only takes into account the 300 CHF deductible and premiums for adults. In any case, it's worth carrying out an individual health insurer comparison.

My premium is increasing by 4.7 per cent. Do I have to accept this?
No, you can of course switch to the cheapest insurer. This can lead to savings of hundreds of francs per year. In addition to switching insurers, there is also the possibility of changing to an alternative insurance model or optimising your deductible. Just remember that you have to cancel your current insurance by the last working day in November. Don’t forget: the postmark date is not the date of receipt! You can quickly and easily create a cancellation letter online.

What are the alternative models?
With the HMO model, the HMO centre (a group surgery) must be consulted first in the event of an illness. With the GP model, the insured person must first visit his or her GP, who will then refer them onwards if necessary. With the TelMed model, the insured person must contact a telephone advice service before seeing a doctor. In emergencies, for preventive gynaecological services and for vision tests, all of the models allow you to visit a doctor directly.

Can I adjust my deductible now, or will I receive a form in November?
The best thing to do is to inform your health insurer of the change in writing by the last working day in November. You can write this directly on the policy, sign it and send it to the health insurance company. This notice period applies if the deductible is to be reduced. If you want to increase it, you have until the last working day in December to do so.

I am currently undergoing treatment or have a chronic illness. Can I still switch my basic insurance?
Yes. Basic insurance is obligatory for everyone in Switzerland. Health insurance companies must accept every insured person, regardless of their age and state of health. In the case of ongoing treatment, your current insurance will pay until 31 December and the new one will begin paying on 1 January. Patients can request an interim bill from the doctor or hospital.

Which complementary medical services are covered by basic insurance?
Since the beginning of 2012, basic insurance covers five treatment methods: anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, neural therapy, phytotherapy and traditional Chinese medicine. Treatments may only be carried out by a doctor with additional training in the area of complementary medicine.

I am pregnant. Which benefits will I receive from basic insurance after the birth?
Basic insurance will pay for midwife care at home until 10 days following the birth, 3 breastfeeding advice visits and 1 check-up 6 to 10 weeks after the birth. If medically necessary, further treatments are of course also covered.

I am retired. Do I have to purchase accident cover?
Yes, because anyone who is not employed by a single employer for a minimum of 8 hours per week must purchase accident cover from a health insurance company. This also applies to people taking unpaid leave.

What happens if I am ill and my insurer suddenly goes bankrupt?
Firstly, it is very unlikely for insurers to go bankrupt because the Federal Office of Public Health checks their financial situation every year. And if it does happen, there's no reason for insured people to worry. The law ensures that insurance cover is guaranteed for every insured person at all times.