Swiss insurers offer hospital insurance as an optional rider with basic obligatory health insurance policies. In contrast to supplementary emergency coverage, hospital insurance policies provide primary coverage for charges related to hospital stays.
Although all insurers are required by law to offer equal benefits with their obligatory health insurance policies, supplementary coverage like hospital insurance can vary in a big way. Health insurance providers can raise or lower premiums based on your place of residence, services offered, the deductible you choose, your gender and your age.
Health insurers also have the right to express reservations, or turn down an applicant for supplementary insurance altogether, if they feel the person’s age, health or habits present a risk. In order to qualify for coverage, applicants have to present detailed information about their health and medical history.
You can choose between 5 basic supplementary hospital insurance coverage models: general ward, semi-private ward, private ward, flex and hospitality.
General ward throughout Switzerland: Free hospital selection
The majority of Swiss health insurance policy holders take out this supplementary coverage for general hospital ward stays. It’s estimated that over 80 percent of insured persons have this affordable coverage.
The «general ward throughout Switzerland» rider covers the cost of hospital stays in the general wards of hospitals across the country, in addition to what is already covered by your basic health insurance. This gives you the freedom to choose which Swiss hospital you would prefer to be treated in. Whatever your decision, the costs are still covered by your insurance.
With the introduction of flat rates in 2012, coverage for public and private hospitals throughout Switzerland was incorporated into obligatory health insurance plans. Medical expenses are covered on an individual basis, regardless of how long or at which hospital a patient stays.
That means that you can now choose which Swiss hospital you want to be treated at, even if you only have basic health insurance coverage.
However, there are limitations. For example, the hospital you choose must be on the hospital list issued by your kanton of residence. If it isn’t, your insurer will only cover costs up to the limits set by your kanton, except in the case of medical emergencies.
If the cost of your treatment at a hospital in another kanton is higher than the flat rate set by your kanton of residence, you will have to pay the difference out of your own pocket. You can find more information on general ward coverage here.
Semi-private ward throughout Switzerland: Free doctor selection and 2-bed shared room.
Semi-private ward coverage is a lot more expensive than general ward insurance. In addition to covering hospital charges, «semi-private ward throughout Switzerland» supplementary hospital insurance also gives you the freedom to choose which of a hospital’s doctors you would like to be treated by. Also covered are the costs of staying in a 2-bed shared room, which is a nice upgrade from the dormitory-style general wards covered by general ward insurance.
It’s worth noting though, that Swiss hospitals typically have a high ratio of 2-bed shared rooms. Depending on your case, you may end up getting to stay in a semi-private ward even if you only have general ward coverage.
Frequently, treatment of semi-private insurance policy holders will be supervised by a head doctor. But depending on the semi-private insurance coverage you have, free doctor selection may be limited. Check into this ahead of time, and always get your insurance to cover the full cost of your treatment if possible. You can get more information about semi-private ward coverage here.
Private ward throughout Switzerland: Free doctor selection and private room
The most expensive hospital coverage you can get is «private ward throughout Switzerland». In addition to the benefits you get with semi-private insurance, this insurance also pays for your stays in private, single bedrooms. In many cases a head doctor will be responsible for your treatment.
But it’s important to note that not all policies provide coverage for all private hospitals in Switzerland.
As with other insurance models, a comparison of hospital insurance offers is a good first step when choosing the best policy. The price differences between insurance companies aren’t small. You can learn more about private ward hospital coverage here.
Flex coverage: Hospital insurance for the spontaneous
If you hold a flex insurance policy, you will be able to choose your ward and type of coverage, but only when you check in at the hospital. If you opt for treatment in a general ward, all costs will typically be covered. If you choose to enjoy the benefits of semi-private or private coverage, you will have to cover a certain part of your hospital charges. The amount you have to pay varies between policies. You can find out more about flex hospital coverage here.
Hospitality model: Hospital room insurance
A «hotel» hospital insurance covers the cost of your stay in either a fully private room or a 2-bed shared room, depending on the policy. But unlike semi-private or private hospital insurance, it does not give you the option of being treated by the doctor of your choice. If you are primarily interested in your physical comfort, and don’t see a need to be involved in your treatment, then this supplementary coverage can be a bargain.
This type of coverage can work out up to 80 percent cheaper than semi-private or private coverage. Since not all Swiss hospitals are covered by all policies, you should make sure you are completely clear about which partner hospitals are covered by a policy before you sign up.
Hospital insurance comparison tool