Insurance News

Health Insurance Premium Hikes Exceed Expectations

September 29, 2017 - Benjamin Manz

A analysis of health insurance of 2018 compulsory health insurance premiums provides interesting insights: On average, health insurance premiums will rise by 4.3% in 2018 over 2017 levels, with an unweighted average increase of 5.1%. Young adults and holders of high-deductible and managed care policies are especially hard hit. Premiums vary widely between cantons and insurance providers, with differences being as large as 40%.

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced yesterday that compulsory health insurance premiums for adults would increase by 4% on average for standard policies with accident insurance coverage and the lowest available deducible. However, that average is limited in its usefulness because an increasingly large number of policyholders do not opt for standard policies or low deductibles.

Runaway premiums: Hikes of up to 40% analyzed and compared all Swiss compulsory health insurance models, deductible models and premiums to determine the actual premium increase in 2018 over 2017. The verdict of the analysis: The health insurance premium rate increase for 2018 is higher than expected, and only slightly lower than the major premium hike which affected 2017 health insurance premiums. Ahead of the FOPH announcement, the insurance sector predicted lower increases of between 3% and 4%.

The analysis shows that the real increase in insurance premiums is 4.3%, taking all insurance models, deductible models and age groups into account. The unweighted average is even higher, at 5.1%. Children, young adults, those with high-deductible policies and HMO policy holders are the most strongly affected, with premium hikes for these policyholders being above average. Certain premiums will increase by up to 40% in 2018 compared to 2017. Galenos health and accident insurance premiums for the Canton of Glarus are one example.

Young adults are particularly hard hit

Health insurance premiums for children will climb by 4.6% on average (6.1% unweighted average). Young adults will pay 4.7% more on average (5.1% unweighted average) and adults will pay 4.3% more, on average, in 2018 than they did in 2017 (4.8% unweighted average). In whole figures, the increase in health insurance premiums for children will add “just” 4 Swiss francs to monthly premiums. This brings the average compulsory health insurance premium for a child living in Switzerland to 102 francs per month.

Young adults will pay 15 francs more per month, on average, in 2018 than they did in 2017. This brings the average monthly premium for a young adult up to 341 francs. Adults will also see a 15-franc increase, raising the average adult premium to 377 francs per month. Young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 are more strongly affected by premium hikes because the premium reductions which they are entitled to are lower than those available to other age groups.

Premium hikes vary between cantons

The most notable premium increases will affect the cantons of Vaud (7%), Wallis (7%) and Neuchâtel (6%). The lowest premium increases will affect residents of the cantons of Glarus (1%) and Appenzell Innerrhoden (1.9%). The Canton of Zurich will see an average premium increase of 4.1% (compare the evaluations in the attached document).

Geneva and Basel-Stadt residents have the highest premiums

The highest average premium for adults will be paid by residents of the Canton of Basel-Stadt (487 francs per month) and Geneva (480 francs per month). Adult policyholders in the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden (275 francs) and Nidwalden (290 francs) will, on average, pay the lowest premiums in 2018.

The highest average premiums for young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 will also be paid in Basel-Stadt (445 francs per month) while the lowest will be paid in Appenzell Innerrhoden (246 francs per month). Children living in the Canton of Basel-Stadt will pay the highest average premium (130 francs per month), while those residing in Appenzell Innerrhoden will, on average, pay the lowest premiums (78 francs per month).

The highest and lowest premiums compared

The highest adult health insurance premiums of 2018 (848 francs per month or more than 10,000 francs per year) will be paid by adults in the Canton of Basel-Stadt which hold Kolping standard policies with the lowest available deductible. The lowest adult premiums (157.70 francs per month) will be paid by adults living in the Canton of Grisons which hold HomeCare policies from SLKK with the highest available deductible.

The lowest premiums available to young adults (147.60 francs per month) will be paid by residents of the Canton of Valais which are insured with Visperterminen (telemedicine model, highest deductible, no accident coverage). The highest premium for young adults (805.60 francs per month) will be paid by residents of Basel-Stadt (standard model, lowest deductible, accident coverage). Premiums for children range between 16.70 francs per month (Appenzell Innerrhoden, Agrisano, 600-franc deductible, excluding accident coverage, with child discounts applied) and 204 francs per month (Geneva, Ingenbohl, standard policy, 0-franc deductible, with accident coverage). All insurance premiums are clearly listed in the health insurance comparison.

Dramatic increase in HMO policy premiums

Premiums for policies based on telemedicine and HMO managed care insurance models will increase more significantly than those of standard insurance policies. While standard policy holders will pay 4.4% more – on average – in 2018, telemedicine policy holders will pay 4.5% more and HMO policy holders will pay 4.7% more in premiums.

High deductibles under pressure

The weighted-average increase in premiums for adult policies with the lowest deductible (300 francs) is 3.9% - bringing the average monthly premium to 421 francs per month. Premiums for policies with higher deductibles will experience greater increases: premiums for 500-franc-deductible policies will rise 4.1% on average; 1000-franc-deductible policies will rise 4.2% on average; 1500-franc-deductible policies will rise 4.4% on average; premiums for 2000-franc-deductible policies will rise 4.8% on average; premiums for 2500-franc-deductible policies will increase by 5%. The average monthly premium for an adult health insurance policy with a 2500-franc deductible will be 289 francs in 2018.

The same pattern can be seen in premiums for young adult policy holders. The higher the deductible, the greater the relative increase in premiums. Premium hikes for young adults average 4.3% (300-franc deductible), 4.4% (500-franc deductible), 4.6% (1000-franc deductible), 4.9% (1500-franc deductible), 5.1% (2000-franc deductible) and 5.2% (2500-franc deductible).

Major cost and service disparities in compulsory health insurance

While increases in the cost of compulsory health insurance are significant, policyholders would do well not to resign themselves to accepting high premiums. There are major differences in the prices charged by different health insurance providers for what is essentially the same product. Performing a health insurance comparison based on your individual situation is an easy way to find the best deal on health insurance.

Which insurance provider is most affordable depends on the applicable premium region, age group, deductible and insurance model. It is also important to understand that – contrary to popular opinion – there are notable differences in the service provided to compulsory health insurance holders by different insurance companies. The way in which claims are settled, for example, varies from one insurer to another.

More information:
Interactive comparison of official health insurance premiums

Health insurance premiums in comparison

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.