Having good vision is beneficial to your health and wellbeing, and also positively impacts your professional life. While glasses and contact lenses can make some eye disorders easier to live with, there are many conditions which cannot be corrected by simply putting on a pair of spectacles.
Many Swiss optometrists offer visual training to correct eye problems which cannot otherwise be corrected. Training programs can last as long as several months and cost several thousand Swiss francs. A large part of the cost is made up of take-home visual-training materials.
Because of those high costs, people looking to escape headaches and eye fatigue by correcting visual problems are left to ask themselves whether or not they have to pay for visual training out of their own pocket. Families with children that suffer from eye conditions are especially hard hit.
What is covered by basic obligatory health insurance?
Considering how vital a role the eyes play in overall health (studies have shown that as many as 70% of the nerves in the human body are connected to the optical system), it makes sense that the high health insurance premiums which Swiss are obligated to pay would cover visual care. But does it?
Basic compulsory health insurance covers checkups at eye doctors. For those 18 years old or younger, it also covers up to 180 Swiss francs of the cost of glasses or contact lenses every year, as long as these are prescribed by an eye doctor.
Additionally, policyholders of all ages are entitled to a benefit of up to 180 francs per year towards glasses or contact lenses when these are required due to eye damage incurred through sickness or surgery.
While the cost of treatment by eye doctors is covered by compulsory health insurance, the cost of visual training programs is not. If visual training is performed by an eye doctor, the cost of checkups will normally be covered, but no coverage is provided for visual training materials. If you receive visual training from an optometrist rather than an eye doctor, none of the cost will be covered by your basic Swiss health insurance policy.
Getting coverage through supplementary health insurance policies
A handful of Swiss health insurance providers include coverage for visual training as a benefit in certain supplementary health insurance policies. Benefits are generally limited to a low maximum sum insured, and some insurance providers only pay out the benefit if you receive treatment from partner optometrists.
The Completa Praeventa policy from SWICA covers 50% of the cost of visual training at SWICA partner optometrists, up to a maximum payout of 300 francs per year. The Optima rider can be added to the Completa Praeventa policy, and covers an additional 90% of visual training costs, up to a maximum payout of 300 francs per year. By combining both of these policies, you can get up to 600 francs of visual training covered every year. However, you can only get these coverages in combination with a Completa outpatient insurance policy from SWICA.
If you have supplementary health insurance, ask your insurer if they cover part of the cost of visual training.
Do visual training benefits justify the cost of supplementary health insurance?
Whether or not the visual training benefits you get outweigh the costs of supplementary health insurance policies has a lot to do with your age. Children generally pay the lowest premiums, and in many cases, the visual training benefits alone already surpass the premiums you pay – in some cases substantially. Choosing the right supplementary health insurance can help parents save hundreds of francs on visual treatments.
Premiums vary based on your age and in some cases even your gender and place of residence, so you will have to consider the premiums charged for any supplementary health insurance policies carefully and compare the costs to the benefits they provide. You can use the supplementary health insurance comparison to compare premiums.
In addition to the visual training benefits a policy provides, it is also well worth looking at what other health insurance coverage you get from the policy. Even if the visual training benefit alone does not cover premiums, the outpatient insurance you get, along with possible contributions towards glasses and contact lenses, dental care, gym memberships or homeopathic treatments can make up for premiums if you end up needing the coverage.
Getting your timing right
Insurers often provide benefits on a per-calendar-year basis. You can maximize the visual training cost contributions you receive from insurers by undergoing the therapy over a period which crosses two calendar years. If you have a policy which provides a maximum annual benefit of 300 francs towards visual training, for example, having the optometrist bill you in part during November or December and in part during January or February of the following year allows you to claim 600 francs (2 x 300 francs).