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Living in EuropeHealth insuranceSwitzerland



Social security system

Switzerland has a solid and effective social insurance network, providing all persons who live and work here ample cover against risks whose financial consequences they may find hard to face on their own. For more information: Social Security System.

Health insurance

Health insurance is compulsory. Every resident of Switzerland, regardless of citizenship, must join a Swiss health insurance plan. Employers are not responsible for providing this form of insurance and there is no automatic provision. You need to take out insurance on a private basis and within three months of taking up residence in Switzerland. Every family member must have health insurance. Health insurance funds cover the compulsory statutory health insurance (KVG), also referred to as basic insurance, and voluntary supplementary insurance.

Compulsory basic insurance

Compulsory basic insurance ensures that you receive high-quality, comprehensive basic medical care in the event of illness, accident or pregnancy. You can choose among a lot of health insurance companies whose basic plans do not differ in terms of coverage for medical care. However, prices differ because of optional services or the availability of different treatment models. Among them, the model with a restricted choice of doctors (HMO Model) or with compulsory first visits to the same general practitioner, are popular. The monthly insurance rates (premiums) are much lower here than in the standard treatment schemes.

Voluntary supplementary insurance

Be aware that dental procedures such as fillings and braces are not included in the basic coverage plan except in cases of acute illness or accident. Therefore by paying supplementary premiums, you may obtain extra benefits not covered by the basic plan (e.g. private room in hospital, special therapies). Supplementary insurance is not a form of social security. You decide whether you want it or not, and insurance companies, in contrast to basic insurance, are not obliged to offer you the desired cover. The insurance companies can also adjust the premiums to take account of your age, state of health or gender.

And last but not least: Do not forget to cancel your health insurance three months prior to leaving Switzerland.

Ways to reduce costs for health insurance:

  • Join a special treatment plan (HMO, General Practitioner model, see above)

  • Rise your fixed annual limit of costs that you pay (results in lower premiums) - but take into account that you might pay this maximal amount

  • Opt out of the health insurance: As a doctoral student you may be exempted from the compulsory schemes if you can prove that you are covered by an equivalent insurance in your home country. You must write a request for exemption to the office in your canton or community. The decision is made on a case-by-case basis. More information in the text below.

  • Individual premium reductions of the cantons (IPV): If your yearly income does not exceed a certain threshold, you are eligible for reductions of your health care premiums. The office in your canton will provide you with the necessary information for applying for the reduction.

Personal liability insurance

You incure liability when you intentionally or unwittingly cause loss or damage to another person. You then have the obligation to compensate them. You also incur liability when a person, animal or property you are responsible for causes loss or damage to a third party.

Anyone can be held liable to the extent not only of their total assets, but also their current and future income. This is why it is important to purchase personal liability insurance for yourself and your family.

Liability insurance provides coverage for you and your family for:

  • personal injury and damage to property,

  • damage prevention costs,

  • loss of income or assets due to personal injury or damage to property,

  • defending unjustified claims.

Make sure to compare the offerings on the insurance market, as the conditions are defined differently by insurance companies.