Supplemental health insurance

From gym memberships to wellness therapies – what will my insurance cover?

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If you attend a yoga course given by a recognized instructor, there’s a good chance your supplemental insurance provider will cover some of the costs. Source: iStock / Pinkypills

Yoga courses, gym memberships, thermal bath multi-tickets – health insurers offer a range of supplemental insurance products to promote health and wellness. This range varies considerably – as do the prices. Here’s an overview.

Healthy policyholders incur few or no medical costs. That’s why many health insurers include health-promoting benefits in their supplemental insurance products. Of course, this does not just pay off for insurance companies – taking out a supplemental insurance policy can be a wise move for policyholders too.

If you like the sound of this, you should act sooner rather than later, as this reduces the risk of being rejected by the insurer as a result of a health check. In Switzerland, supplemental insurance is governed by the Insurance Policies Act (VVG) rather than the Health Insurance Act (KVG). This means that insurers are not obliged to accept all applicants and usually require them to fill in a health questionnaire beforehand. Factors such as age, weight and current state of health determine whether or not an applicant will be accepted. It is much more difficult for the over-50s to take out supplemental insurance than for younger applicants.

The cover provided by supplemental insurance complements that offered by basic insurance. A distinction is made between inpatient and outpatient supplemental insurance. The latter may include additional cover for alternative medicine, medication not covered by basic insurance and psychotherapy performed by therapists without medical training. Insurers also offer benefits related to health promotion and disease prevention. These can include anything from gym memberships and relaxation therapies to vaccinations. Benefits vary depending on both the health insurer and the individual package. They are also usually limited to a certain maximum amount per calendar year.

Important: The cancellation deadline for most supplemental insurance policies is 30 September, 2018.

For fitness: gym and sports memberships

Some supplemental insurance policies help cover the cost of keeping physically fit, by contributing to gym memberships or antenatal classes, for example. An increasing number of insurers are also offering cheaper premiums based on step counting incentives via app or other fitness tracker. These supplemental insurance packages cover a portion of the costs incurred in connection with gyms, fitness classes and health-promoting activities such as aerobics, antenatal exercises and preventive courses.

A word of caution, however: insurers won't necessarily accept just any service provider – most require that gyms and sports centres, for instance, have a quality label such as Qualitop or Fitness-Guide (links in German only). You can typically obtain a contribution of between 200 and 500 francs per year – on the condition that you purchase a particular type of membership or ticket (e.g. one that covers at least 10 sessions). In addition, many insurers impose a limit of 50 to 75 per cent of the fitness-related costs. Do you go to the gym on a regular basis? If so, a supplementary insurance policy may be well worth looking into. Just check that your gym is recognized by your chosen health insurance company.

For wellness: health resorts and courses like yoga and autogenic training

Courses 

It is said that a healthy body means a healthy mind. But the reverse is also true. That’s why some supplemental insurance companies cover swim passes and thermal bath multi-tickets, in addition to relaxation therapies like yoga. Some also cover techniques like autogenic training and courses on stress management. As is the case with gym memberships, insurers do not accept all providers. For yoga courses, for example, some insurers have lists of recognized providers or refer you to this professional register (in German and French only).

Stays in a health resort

The aim of a stay in a health resort is to support recovery. Has your doctor prescribed a treatment in a health resort? If so, your supplement insurance provider will cover some of the residential costs. Once again, benefits and premiums vary considerably. It's worth comparing – some insurers even support health resort stays abroad. These costs are usually limited to a fixed amount per day, and a number of days per year. If prior approval is obtained from the health insurer, basic insurance will cover the medical and therapeutic treatment costs. In addition, for health resort stays of no more than 21 days per year, basic insurance also pays a contribution towards expenses of 10 francs per day, on top of the medical and therapy costs.

Note that a distinction is made between health resort treatment and rehabilitation. Any inpatient rehabilitation stays prescribed directly after an operation are covered by basic insurance. In this case, the purpose of the stay must be to relieve the symptoms of an illness or operation and it must take place in a recognized clinic led by doctors. Health resort treatments do not necessarily have to follow a stay in hospital.

For prevention: medically approved vaccinations

Health-promoting measures also include vaccinations not covered by basic insurance. Some preventive vaccinations are not part of the vaccination schedule. These include travel vaccinations (e.g. against yellow fever or rabies) and even flu vaccines for healthy individuals. Insurers usually cover 90 per cent of the costs. But here too, health insurance cover can vary.

Summary

The range of supplemental insurance products available – and in particular the benefits offered – is enormous. However, you cannot always cherry-pick individual benefits to suit your particular needs, so you may end up buying a package that includes benefits you will never use. For this reason, it is important to check and compare the different packages offered by each insurer carefully, and seek advice if necessary. And it's not just the benefits that can vary – the premiums can, too. Sometimes they can be higher than the actual cost of treatment.

Comparis tip: It's no problem to take out basic and supplemental insurance with different providers. For more information, compare benefits in our basic and supplemental insurance comparison. But watch out for additional costs: some health insurers charge a fee if basic and supplemental insurance are not with the same provider.

 

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