The general ward coverage type – sometimes referred to as basic hospital coverage – is the most affordable hospital insurance.
Premiums for children begin at 1 franc per month while those for a 60-year-old cost between 5 and 20 francs per month. So this type of coverage costs a fraction of what you would pay for private or semi-private insurance. But the added value you receive above what your obligatory insurance already covers is also marginal.
The hospital coverage that comes with your obligatory health insurance policy already covers all of the costs of a general ward hospital stay. But the catch is that your obligatory insurance only covers stays at hospitals within your canton of residence.
If for any reason you end up staying in a hospital outside of the canton you reside in, your obligatory insurance policy will only cover your expenses up to the limit that applies to your canton.
Exception: In the event of a medical emergency, or when the medical treatment you need is not available in hospitals within your canton, your obligatory insurance will pay for the full cost of your stay at a hospital in another canton.
So when would you need additional “general ward” hospital insurance coverage and how does it work? We’ve listed that information here:
- The primary benefit of supplementary general ward insurance is that you get to receive treatment in hospitals across Switzerland. Your obligatory insurance does cover hospital stays outside of your canton, but only up to the limit for your home canton. If you live in a canton where hospital stays are relatively cheap, your insurance coverage limit for hospital stays will be relatively low. If you choose to receive treatment at a hospital in a canton where medical care is much more expensive, the difference between what your obligatory insurance covers and the hospital bill can be substantial. That’s where “general ward” insurance comes in, covering the difference.
- It’s important to understand that supplementary hospital coverage applies to your insurance provider’s partner hospitals. With some insurance companies, partners may include certain private clinics and hospitals, as well as public hospitals. Of course private clinics rarely have general wards. Here too, coverage varies between insurers: Some supplementary insurance policies only cover treatment in public hospitals. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly before signing up for a policy, or ask the insurance company which hospitals are covered.
- Important: Unlike private ward or semi-private ward insurance coverage, general ward coverage normally does not entitle you to choose which available doctor will treat you.
- Adding supplementary “general ward” insurance does not offer great added value if you live in a canton with a good healthcare infrastructure (like the cantons of Zurich, Bern or Geneva). However, if you live in a less populated canton with few hospitals, getting additional coverage for hospital stays in other cantons could pay off.
- As with other supplementary hospital insurance policies, insurers are not obligated to provide you with coverage. An insurance company can turn down your application for supplementary general ward coverage. So it makes sense to get a guarantee of approval from your prospective insurance provider before giving up your current health insurance coverage.
- Stay on the safe side and, whenever possible, get a confirmation of coverage from your insurance company before each hospital stay.
- With the high cost of healthcare in Switzerland, making sure you are properly covered for different medical scenarios is important. But whether or not you really need additional general ward coverage really depends on where you live and where you prefer to be treated.