Supplemental health insurance

Supplemental health insurance: 5 key questions and answers

What kinds of supplementary policies are available and which one is best for me? The answers are here.

Millions of people in Switzerland protect their health with supplemental insurance. Yet many do not really know where to start, with all those offers out there and their small print. provides the answers to the most important questions.

One difficult question most policyholders have asked themselves is whether they should take out supplemental insurance in addition to mandatory basic insurance. And if so, which one?
After all, insurance providers offer an abundance of supplemental benefits that vary from one provider to the next. The following principle may seem simple, but it actually gets quite tricky in practice: everyone should carefully check what they actually need.

Basic and supplemental insurance: what's the difference?

Basic health insurance is mandatory for all Swiss residents. Benefits at this basic level are determined by law and are the same, no matter which insurer you choose. This mandatory insurance always meets your basic health care needs with high-quality medical services. It is intended to provide appropriate, effective care with cost control. You should not need a supplementary policy to cover these basic-level costs. Health insurers have to accept you – they are not allowed to impose any provisos. On the other hand, supplemental policies make sure that you will be comfortable if you get sick, offering flexible benefits not covered by basic insurance. Insurers do not have to accept you for such policies. They will ask you to fill out a questionnaire on your health and can impose provisos.

What kinds of supplemental policies are available?

There are quite a few policies that supplement outpatient benefits. These include complementary medicine (also referred to as alternative medicine), maternity benefits, prevention such as gym membership contributions, emergencies abroad, glasses, dental care, corrective dentistry, rescue and transportation, certain medications and medical aids and appliances, and psychotherapy with psychologists without a medical degree.
Supplementary policies for inpatient treatment are quite popular in Switzerland. These ensure that if you are hospitalized, you will either have your own room or share the room with only one other person. You will get preferential scheduling for the dates of any operations you may need – and be treated by a senior, head, or affiliated physician. There are also inpatient policies for the general ward, i.e. without any one- or two-bed room guarantees, that cover all of Switzerland. They let you pick any hospital, even if the treatment there will be more expensive than the same one that is available in the canton you are living in.

Which type of supplemental insurance is best for me?

Clarify your individual needs first. Then, take a close look at each insurer's plan to see which one is the best match. This is all the more important given that the supplemental benefits you would like to have are often only available as part of bundles that also include various other benefits. Taking out such a policy with a set bundle of benefits only pays off for policyholders if the benefits it contains match their needs very closely.

Do I have to take out all policies with the same provider?

A lot of people do not know that they are not required to take out basic and supplemental policies with the same provider. If you have already done so, you can still easily switch your basic policy to another provider. Sometimes, you as a policyholder may have a discount as you hold both basic and supplemental policies with the same provider. Although this discount may be lost when switching to another basic insurance provider, doing so may pay off anyway – the difference from the higher to the new, lower premiums could be a good deal greater than the amount of the discount! Comparing premiums pays off.

What do I have to keep in mind when I wish to cancel a policy or switch to another provider?

The most important point here is that you should wait until you are definitively accepted for the new supplemental policy – without any provisos – before cancelling your current one, as supplemental policy providers may impose such provisos.
Please note that most supplemental policies must be cancelled by the end of September – and not by the end of November, as with basic insurance. This means that it can pay off if you starting comparing policies now. Some supplemental insurance policies have longer cancellation periods and different deadlines for cancellation. Your policy sets out these conditions. The major insurance providers' cancellation periods are listed here. now allows you to compare the premiums for supplemental health insurance including basic insurance: