Health insurance companies typically draw a line between conventional medicine and alternative medicine. Alternative and complementary treatments are often considered to be inferior or unnecessary.
However, Swiss compulsory health insurance provides some coverage for alternative treatments. The basic coverage for alternative treatments which you get from compulsory health insurance can be greatly extended through optional, supplementary health insurance policies.
Swiss compulsory health insurance coverage for alternative medicine
- Swiss voters chose to promote the use of complementary medicine in May 2009, and this decision is now anchored in the Federal constitution. Since January 1, 2012, Swiss compulsory health insurance covers anthroposophical treatments, homeopathic treatments, neural therapy, phytotherapy and traditional Chinese medicine, when certain conditions are met.
- To benefit from compulsory health insurance coverage, alternative medical treatments must be carried out by registered doctors. Alternative medicines must be listed on the listed on either the federal list of accepted pharmaceuticals or the federal list of medical specialties. The list of pharmaceutical specialties is accessible at www.sl.bag.admin.ch.
- Compulsory health insurance coverage for alternative medical treatments was initially implemented on a test-basis until the end of 2017. The effectiveness of this measure is currently being assessed and announcements are yet to be made. Acupuncture will remain covered by compulsory health insurance in any case.
- The compulsory health insurance deductible and coinsurance apply to alternative treatment just as they apply to conventional medical treatment.
Swiss supplemental health insurance coverage for alternative medicine
- Not all alternative medical treatments are covered by compulsory health insurance, but many supplemental health insurance policies provide extended coverage for alternative medicine.
- The coverage provided by supplemental health insurance policies is not legislated by the government. Each health insurance provider has its own list of alternative treatments, medicines, doctors and therapies which are covered by their policies. However, most health insurance providers base their supplementary coverage on a unified list which provides information on numerous therapies and treatments and acts as a seal of quality. This list is known as the ErfahrungsMedizinischen Register (EMR) in German and as the Registre de Médicine Empirique (RME) in French.
- Before opting for alternative therapy, contact your health insurance provider and have them confirm whether or not the treatment is covered by your policy. If you are looking for a policy which covers a specific practice or treatment, consider asking the alternative medicine practitioner. Many practitioners will be able to provide you with a list of supplementary health insurance policies which cover their practice.
- Most supplementary health insurance policies only cover part of the cost of alternative treatments. There are major differences in the coverage provided by different supplementary health insurance policies, with some covering as little 50% of the costs of alternative treatments and others covering as much as 90% of costs. Some insurers apply an additional deductible.
- Some policies only pay out benefits up to a maximum of between 1,500 and 10,000 francs. Others provide unlimited coverage – minus the deductible and coinsurance. Some supplemental health insurance policies limit the number of individual treatment sessions covered across a course of treatment.
- These supplementary health insurance policies offer the highest available coverage for alternative medicine: Groupe Mutuel Bonus (covers 90% of costs with a CHF 150 deductible), Helsana Sana and Completa (75% of costs for inpatient treatment, up to CHF 5,000), Sympany (80%, up to CHF 10,000), Sanitas Classic (80%, up to CHF 5,000), EGK Sun 3 (80% of costs with a CHF 300 deductible).
- The coverage provided can vary broadly from one supplemental health insurance policy or policy rider to another. Supplementary health insurance coverages are normally bundled and offered as a package. Comparing coverage and costs using the interactive supplementary health insurance comparison on moneyland.ch makes finding the best coverage for your needs easy.
- The interactive supplementary health insurance comparison provides detailed breakdowns of alternative medicine benefits by policy. The “Alternative medicine” filter and sort options let you list and sort policies based on the alternative medicine coverage they provide.