Like semi-private ward hospital insurance, private ward insurance is a standard optional health insurance rider. Supplementary private hospital ward insurance coverage (normally shortened to «private ward insurance») covers hospital stays in a private room, treatment by a doctor of your choice in your preferred hospital, and other exclusive medical services.
Private ward insurance is the most expensive hospital coverage option you can get. That’s why it’s very important that you fully understand the benefits and costs of your policy before you sign on the dotted line. We at moneyland.ch have put together the following tips to help you get it right.
Tip 1: Which hospitals are eligible? Theoretically, you should be able to choose to be treated by any doctor or hospital in Switzerland. But take note: Not all insurance companies have partnerships with all hospitals. Exclusive or expensive hospitals in particular (Hirslanden and Genolier clinics, for example) are not included in a number of insurance policies.
Health insurance provider KPT, for example, does not have a partnership with the Genolier Group, which operates Privatklinik Bethanien in Zurich and Schmerzklink Basel, among others. Make sure the hospitals you would like to receive treatment at are covered by an insurance policy before you take it out.
Insurers will sometimes offer a reduced rate when you confine your policy to a limited number of hospitals. Just note that should you require treatment in another hospital due to an emergency or any other reason, you probably will not be able to adapt your selection to cover that hospital.
Tip 2: Are you covered internationally? Some private ward insurance policies cover hospitals the world over. Others only cover the cost of hospital stays within Switzerland. Some health insurers offer both a cheaper policy which only covers Swiss hospitals, and a more expensive insurance that gives you private ward coverage worldwide.
Tip 3: Check additional coverage: Besides covering the cost of your hospital stays, private hospital insurance riders normally also cover other services like home-based care, rooming in, physiotherapy, spa treatments, repatriation for medical purposes and many other expenses. The moneyland.ch hospital comparison lets you filter and sort Swiss insurance policies by the individual services they cover.
Tip 4: Compare insurance premiums. Private hospital coverage is generally expensive. But even in this high price category, the cost of private insurance with similar benefits can double from one insurance policy to the next.
That means a 30-year-old might pay anywhere from 50 to more than 250 francs per month for private hospital insurance. A 55-year-old might pay premiums of between 150 and 650 francs per month.
So it’s important to compare not only benefits, but also the costs that come with private insurance policies. Also take a careful look at the rate at which premiums increase as you get older and move into higher premium brackets.
Premiums for many private hospital insurance policies increase drastically somewhere between your 40th and 45th birthday, just as you reach the stage at which you are more likely to need expensive hospital care. The rate at which costs increase with age differs from one health insurer to another, and you can see this clearly using the moneyland.ch interactive hospital insurance comparison tool.
Tip 5: Choose the right deductible. Health insurers usually offer a number of different deductible models for private hospital coverage. The higher the deductible, the cheaper the premiums. You usually have the option of choosing a very high deductible, and doing so can cut your premiums in a big way.
For example, a private hospital insurance policy that costs 400 per month without a deductible will cost 15% less with a 1000 franc deductible. The same policy would cost 20% less with a 2000 franc deductible, 25% less with a 3000 franc deductible, and 30% less with a 5000 franc deductible. If you opt for the highest deductible of 7000 francs, you could get 35% off the base premium. The deductible applies to hospital charges you accumulate within the space of 1 year. So if you have a 3000 franc deductible, you will pay a maximum of 3000 francs in hospital costs per year, and your insurer will cover any costs above that amount.
If you want to insure yourself against a worst-case scenario and can afford to pay several thousand francs out of your own pocket, you might want to consider a policy with a fairly high deductible. But do note that, unlike a basic health insurance policy, you may not be able to choose a lower deductible on your private hospital insurance at a later date.
Tip 6: Consider accident coverage. If you want to be treated in a private ward after an accident, getting supplementary accident coverage can be worth it. If the accident insurance you receive from your employer already covers private ward treatment, adding this extra coverage to your private hospital insurance is unnecessary.
Tip 7: Choose the right policy term. Health insurers frequently offer discounts for long-term policies. But if you aren’t sure of exactly how long you plan to stay insured, you may be better off getting an annually renewable policy.
Tip 8: Never get a capped policy. Whatever you do, never take out a private ward insurance policy which places a cap (50,000 francs, for example) on the total benefit you can receive. The cost of a hospital stay in Switzerland can reach hundreds of thousands of francs.
Tip 9: Think before you change insurers. If you are thinking of giving up your private hospital insurance policy, make sure you understand that you can be rejected when you apply for another policy. Unlike basic health insurance, insurers are not obliged to provide you with private hospital insurance. Before you give up your current policy, make sure that you have a guarantee of acceptance from your new insurer.
Tip 10: Group discounts. Look into possible group discounts before settling on a policy. Many supplementary insurance providers offer special rates and discounts of up to 25% to companies, associations and other organizations. However in some cases, you may get the same or better conditions from another policy without the group discount.
Tip 11: Consider semi-private hospital insurance. If you don’t mind sharing a 2-bed hospital room and are most interested in being able to choose your doctor and hospital than staying in a private room, then a more affordable semi-private hospital insurance is worth looking into. Some insurance companies, including Helsana and Sanitas, give you exactly the same doctor and hospital selection privileges with both semi-private and private hospital coverage.
Tip 12: Don’t rule out flex-insurance. If private insurance premiums are just too high for you, but at the same time you want the freedom to enjoy private ward stays and to choose your hospital and doctor, flex-insurance could work well for you. The disadvantages of flex-insurance policies include limited supplementary benefits and high out-of-pocket costs.
Tip 13: Is there a Payback option? Some health insurers give you money back if you choose to receive treatment in a general or semi-private ward when you have private hospital insurance coverage (if the hospital offers both). This money back may come to 100 or even 150 francs for each day you spend in hospital.