Avoiding gaps in health insurance coverage is a major concern for those moving out of Switzerland. Depending on the country you are moving to, good health insurance coverage may or may not be available locally, or insurance companies may be unreliable.
In this case, an international health insurance policy can help you enjoy similar levels of health insurance coverage to what you enjoy in Switzerland, while working with reliable Swiss insurance companies within the Swiss legal framework.
If you move countries fairly regularly, remaining insured by just one insurance provider after each move can be much less complicated than engaging new insurance plans. You avoid the risk of losing your health insurance coverage if insurers in your new country of residence refuse to take you on due to changes in your health condition.
Is Swiss international health insurance a good choice for global citizens?
If you live in a country where health insurance is either unavailable, unreliable or expensive, then there are several good arguments for getting international health insurance from a Swiss insurer.
Premiums are competitive, especially if you do not need coverage for the U.S. and Canada. Swiss insurance companies are generally very reliable and pay benefits out promptly as long as conditions are met. Additionally, Switzerland is a politically stable and neutral country that places a strong emphasis on consumer protection.
Because the Swiss franc (CHF) is a consistently stable currency, getting insurance benefits paid out in francs helps you avoid the risk of becoming underinsured due to fluctuations in the local currency of the country in which you live.
Golden Care, a Geneva-based health insurance provider, specializes in health insurance for people living outside of Switzerland. You can take out its GlobalCover policies even if you live in your home country (see exceptions below) and are not an expatriate. The basic HospiCover plan provides up to CHF 1 million of inpatient insurance coverage for both illness and accident treatment every year. The policy includes full coverage for private ward hospital stays, organ transplants, ambulance transportation and medical emergency evacuation or repatriation, among others.
This Geneva-based health insurance provider, specializes in health insurance for people living outside of Switzerland. You can take out a policy even if you live in your home country (see exceptions below) and are not an expatriate. The basic “HospiCover” policy provides up to CHF 1 million of inpatient insurance coverage for both illness and accident treatment every year. The policy includes full coverage for private ward hospital stays, organ transplants, ambulance transportation and medical emergency evacuation or repatriation, among others. Outpatient treatment occurring up to 30 days prior and 90 days after hospitalization is also covered.
The EveriCover plan has similar coverage to the HospiCover plan, but removes many limitations, providing more comprehensive coverage. The Evericover Plus option adds coverage for maternity (up to CHF 18,000) and for up to CHF 1500 of dental care costs per year. If you want high levels of cover (up to CHF 4 million per year) and near comprehensive medical coverage, the ExecutiveCover policy gives you that protection. You can get a Golden Care policy no matter which country you reside in. You can choose between getting worldwide insurance, or getting worldwide insurance which limits coverage for North America and the Caribbean to 30 days per year in exchange for much lower premiums. Note that North American coverage does not apply if you go there specifically for the purpose of receiving treatment. If you reside in the USA or Canada, you will not be eligible for a Golden Care plan. However, U.S. or Canadian citizens residing outside of those countries can get insured.
Cost: A 40-year-old male in good health will pay close to CHF 2600 per year for basic HospiCover insurance with an CHF 800 deductible (CHF 75, CHF 400 and CHF 1500 deductibles are also available). This includes 30 days per year of insurance coverage in North America and the Caribbean. The same policy, but with no limitations on coverage in North America and the Caribbean, would cost over CHF 6400 per year. An ExecutiveCover policy with the same CHF 800 deductible would cost around CHF 5900 per year. Premiums for the executive plan double to more than CHF 11,800 per year if you need more than 30 days per year of coverage for North America and the Caribbean. Premiums may vary based on your age and health.
In addition to Swiss insurers, international health insurance is also offered by companies like Allianz Worldwide Care, Cigna Global and Globality.
Swiss international health insurance for former residents of Switzerland
If you currently live in Switzerland but plan to relocate in the near future, it is worth knowing that a number of Swiss health insurance providers offer international insurance to those emigrating from Switzerland. This is often referred to as “voluntary health insurance”.
As a Swiss resident in the process of leaving Switzerland, asking your current health insurance provider whether they offer international policies is a good place to start. However, many Swiss insurers do not offer international insurance, so your options are somewhat limited.
CSS: CSS offers solid coverage for Swiss expats through its International Health Plan. This plan provides up to CHF 1 million (per calendar year) of inpatient insurance coverage at eligible hospitals worldwide. Hospitals must be state-recognized and officially regulated. Hospital-prescribed medicines also fall under this inpatient insurance coverage. The cost of inpatient rehabilitation and associated medicines are covered, up to a maximum benefit of 800 francs per day for up to 90 days per calendar year. Medical aids used in conjunction with inpatient treatment are included in this coverage. You can choose between a deductible of 1000 francs or 3000 francs for inpatient insurance coverage.
The policy also covers up to CHF 100,000 (per calendar year) of outpatient treatment by officially recognized general practitioners and specialists (including osteopaths and chiropractors) worldwide. You can choose an outpatient insurance deductible of CHF 300 (in combination with the CHF 1000 deductible for inpatient coverage) or CHF 900 (in combination with the CHF 3000 inpatient insurance deductible).
Standard medicines are covered by outpatient insurance as long as they are medically prescribed. Medical aids prescribed in conjunction with outpatient treatment are covered. If your outpatient treatment helps you avoid hospitalization, you can benefit from up to 50,000 francs of coverage towards that treatment with no deductible (getting approval from CSS before undergoing treatment is recommended).
Additional benefits include maternity coverage (50,000 francs per pregnancy and birth towards public or private hospital care plus 5000-francs of additional coverage for the child), limited prenatal and postnatal coverage, up to 400 francs per day (maximum 180 days within a 900-consecutive-day period) towards psychiatric treatment, and up to 100 francs per day for home-based care (max. 60 days per calendar year). Prescribed spa visits following hospitalization are covered with a benefit of up to 150 francs per day (max 30 days per illness/accident). You can also claim reimbursement for the costs of prescribed physiotherapy.
Medically supervised repatriation and emergency medical transport are fully covered, as are economy air tickets (or first-class rail tickets) for you and a companion, following emergency medical transportation. Even repatriation of your mortal remains to your country of origin or country of residence are covered. Rescue operations are covered up to a sum insured of 20,000 francs per accident or illness.
KPT: Swiss insurer KPT/CPT offers voluntary international health insurance to people moving from Switzerland to another country. The coverage is very similar to that provided by compulsory Swiss health insurance, but includes additional supplementary coverage.
This policy provides inpatient coverage (hospital stays, nursing home stays, rehabilitation) up to fixed limits. Hospital stays are covered up to CHF 600 per day for stays of up to 90 days, CHF 300 per day for stays of 91 – 180 days, and CHF 100 per day for stays of 181 – 720 days. The policy also covers 90% of the costs of treatment by doctors, care by midwives, emergency hospital care, gynecological examinations and laboratory analyses. 90% of the costs of home-care (caretakers) are covered, up to a limit of 2000 francs per year. 90% of the costs of treatment by chiropractors (max. 24 sessions per year), physiotherapists (max. 36 sessions per year), and a number of other kinds of therapists are also covered, within certain limits. 90% of the cost of prescribed medicines is also covered.
With benefits towards medical aids (up to CHF 1000 per calendar year), eyeglasses and contact lenses (up to CHF 200 per calendar year) and dental care (50% of costs, maximum CHF 300 per calendar year), this voluntary international insurance provides many of the benefits you are used to getting from both compulsory and supplementary Swiss health insurance combined.
Premiums vary depending on your age and the deductible you choose, with a CHF 300 minimum deductible for adults (as with Swiss compulsory health insurance). Opting for a CHF 1000 deductible cuts 20 percent off your premium. A CHF 2000 deductible cuts 35% off your premium. Child policies are available with CHF 0, CHF 300 (25% discount) and CHF 600 (45% discount) deductibles. If your main concern is protecting your finances against the event of major medical expenses like long hospital stays or expensive treatments, then going with the highest possible deductible can save you a lot of money.
Supplementary semi-private ward hospital insurance or private ward hospital insurance is available as optional riders. Available riders include worldwide private ward hospital insurance, private hospital insurance in all countries except the United States and Canada, and semi-private ward hospital insurance for Europe and Mediterranean countries.
SWICA: The “Global Care” policy from SWICA is one of the most flexible, allowing you to choose between coverage of 100,000 francs, 250,000 francs and 1 million francs, depending on your needs. You can also select from a range of deductibles to cut the cost of coverage, with the lowest being 600 francs, and the highest being 10,000 francs (60% discount on premiums).
This plan covers inpatient and outpatient care by state-recognized doctors, specialists and hospitals worldwide (for illnesses, accidents and maternity). Convalescence stays are covered with up to 100 francs per day (maximum 30 days per calendar year). A home nursing care benefit of 100 francs per day for up to 90 days is included, on the condition that the care is provided by a certified caregiver.
Medically prescribed medicines are also covered. Other covered treatments include rehabilitation (up to 90 days per year), psychiatric treatment (up to 300 francs per day, max. 90 days per year) and spa treatments (170 francs per day, max. 30 days per year). Emergency medical transportation, repatriation and transfers are covered up to a sum insured of 50,000 francs per calendar year.
Things to know before applying for international health insurance
1. Because Swiss law only makes health insurance compulsory for residents, Swiss insurance companies are not obligated to insure non-residents (with the exception of Swiss pensioners). Your applications can be turned down by insurance companies if you fail to meet their criteria.
2. Most insurers will not accept applications from people over the age of 70. If you are a Swiss pensioner retiring abroad, you can continue to receive compulsory Swiss health insurance coverage as long as you receive your pension from Switzerland.
3. Insurers generally require you to provide accurate information about your personal health, medical history and lifestyle habits. Make sure to answer questions truthfully, as not doing so could jeopardize your insurance benefits.
4. You will have to inform your insurance provider whenever you change your address. This is especially true if you move from one country to another.
5. Although international health insurance policies come with fixed maximum sums insured, health insurance providers pay out benefits based on country-by-country medical cost averages. For example, If the insurance company establishes that the cost of a stay at a decent hospital in a country comes to the equivalent of CHF 300 per day, for example, and you stay at a private clinic which charges the equivalent of CHF 800 per day, you may have to cover the portion in excess of CHF 300 per day.
6. While the international health insurance offered by Swiss insurance providers provides similar coverage to Swiss compulsory health insurance, it generally is not accepted as a substitute for compulsory Swiss health insurance for people residing in Switzerland.
Remember that getting insurance coverage is primarily a means of protecting yourself from the costs of unexpected or long-term illnesses and accidents. Use common sense and stick to reasonably priced healthcare.
Last update: August 2018
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