swiss health insurance money wasters pitfalls

Swiss Health Insurance: 7 Common Money Wasters

Health insurance mistakes are likely one of the biggest and most pointless sources of financial waste among the Swiss population. Get familiar with the most widespread insurance wallet drainers here.

While the cost of health insurance may be negligible to the high-income populace, many Swiss find it difficult to cope with ever-increasing health insurance costs. But what is sadder than the fact that health insurance is compulsory and expensive is the fact that many policyholders pay far more than they need to and get little added value in return.

Here, moneyland.ch lists 7 of the most common health insurance money traps to watch out for:

1. Sticking with the wrong insurer

There may be fringe reasons why some Swiss insurers can charge twice as much as others for the exact same coverage and still exist, but the biggest culprit is sheer laziness. Many people feel that they are too busy to compare insurance policies and make the switch to more affordable coverage.

But there are huge differences in the premiums charged by different health insurance companies for basic insurance coverage. The insurance model you choose also has a major impact on the price tag. The most expensive compulsory health insurance policy, for example, can cost twice as much as the cheapest policy.

Comparing the cost of insurance policies is key to saving money. You can switch to another health insurance policy anytime before the end of November every year.

Changing your basic health insurance policy does not mean you have to change your supplementary insurance policies, even if you move to another insurance provider. Although premiums are one of the deciding factors when choosing an insurer, you should also consider things like customer satisfaction and the way in which insurers settle claims. These attributes are clearly shown in the health insurance comparison.

2. Choosing the wrong deductible

The difference in price between a policy with a 2500-franc annual deductible and a 300-franc annual deductible can easily add 100 francs or more to the monthly premiums you pay for the same policy. If you don’t use healthcare services at all, that extra 100+ francs per month is literally money down the toilet. The optimal deductible for your needs depends on how much you spend on healthcare every year. You can easily find it by using the “optimal deductible” profile in the health insurance comparison.

3. Opting for the wrong health insurance model

Many people do not understand how different health insurance models work and how using these to their advantage can help them save money. Because of this, many policyholders opt for the expensive “standard” model when they could get by just as well with low-cost family doctor, telemedicine, HMO or pharmacy models. The main difference is that the cost-cutting models require that you consult with specific medical professionals ahead of receiving treatment from hospitals or specialists. Unless you travel around the country all the time, a low-cost policy will likely work just as well for you and can easily save you up to 50 francs per month compared to getting standard insurance.

4. Keeping unnecessary accident insurance

When you are employed at least 20% (one day a week, for example), you receive occupational accident insurance through your employer. That means that as soon as you start working at least that much, the accident insurance rider on your compulsory health insurance policy becomes virtually worthless. Make sure to contact your health insurance provider and have them put your accident insurance on hold when you become employed (you may need to provide confirmation of insurance from your employer). Cutting out accident insurance can knock up to 30 francs off your monthly health insurance premiums.

5. Missing out on premium reductions

If you are studying or for any other reason qualify as a low-income earner, you may well be entitled to premium reductions. Approximately 30 percent of Swiss policyholders get part of their premiums covered by their municipalities, and if you think you qualify, you may want to check out this guide to health insurance premiums to find out how to apply. There is no fixed countrywide reduction, but a study found that average reductions range between around 1100 francs to around 3100 francs. That isn’t exactly petty cash.

6. Not sending in bills

As a rule, Swiss health insurance companies use the tiers garant system (indirect claim settlement) for at least part of the coverage they provide. That means the healthcare service providers send your medical bills to you, and you forward them to your insurer.

If you end up paying small healthcare and pharmacy bills yourself, misplacing bills and receipts or forgetting to forward them to your insurer, you can end up wasting a lot of money by not getting reimbursed for medical spending. Some people simply cover low-cost bills themselves because they can’t be bothered to forward them.

Altogether, it is estimated that residents of Switzerland pay 15 percent of tiers garant bills which should be covered by their insurer out of their own pockets. Don’t be part of that statistic.

7. Not taking advantage of prepayment discounts

Some health insurance providers offer discounts when you pay your premiums in a lump sum at the beginning of the insurance term rather than in monthly installments. If you have the means to pay your total annual insurance premiums in advance, you can benefit from discounts of up to 2% - far more than you would earn on interest by keeping your money in a Swiss savings account.

When taking out a new health insurance policy, ask the insurance company if they offer a discount when premiums are paid in a lump sum.

More on this topic:
Health insurance comparison

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The moneyland.ch magazine provides accurate, unbiased information on topics related to finance and money. In addition to research and expert interviews, the magazine contains numerous financial guides.