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Old 29.08.2017, 15:44
mm089 mm089 is offline
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Advice for those who are late with their health insurance

Hey everyone - I've noticed that a lot of the questions on here regarding sorting out your health insurance late have been responded to in a less-than-helpful way. I thought it might be useful to write a "Don't Panic" post about this, because I certainly was panicking and searching English Forum didn't exactly help me through that..! The below applies to Basel-Stadt; other cantons do things differently, and some cantons will chase you constantly if you don't have health insurance and eventually chose one for you which might be considerably more expensive than what you would find for yourself, so it's worth talking to people in your area to find out what their experience was.

So, like a lot of people in this position, I came here to study and had no financial support when I came. I managed to get enough work together, and eventually get a scholarship, to pay my rent and survive, but health insurance was something that I knew I needed to have but had no way of affording. I've literally only just started to make enough where an extra outlay of something like 400CHF per month is feasible without getting into serious debt problems. Before you say it - I am fully aware that I was putting myself in a seriously difficult situation as a result of this, but my career situation was literally stay in Switzerland in this difficult position or go back to the UK and give up my chosen career. Not an easy decision.

At any rate, I got to the point where I was really wanting to stay and knew that I needed to get health insurance as I am now fully resident here. I read some of the posts on here and some of the legal info on the Basel Stadt website and started to have to change my trousers very frequently, if you see what I mean. At any rate, I had heard from a couple of people who had worked it out from a similar situation, and it didn't seem quite as 'the end is nigh' as it appears. Here are two paths, one of which is not the one I took, but both of which should hopefully help those of you who have ended up in a similar state to calm down a bit.

1) The Risky Way

Numerous friends of mine have done this with success - basically, this involves ringing insurance companies directly and trying to get a quote from them. In some cases, people have only had to pay the 3x 1-month premium that is completely normal when sorting out new health insurance in Switzerland; in others, they have been able to do it without having to pay anything extra at all, which seems like some weird kind of black magic to me. This is not the one to go for if you get anxious on the telephone, though, which I certainly do, and I think you need to block out a whole day and ring basically every company until you strike gold. It's also possible that you will have no success doing it this way, and I'm not completely sure what position you put yourself and them in by doing this.

2) The Very-Much By the Book Way

Contact a health insurance provider and get a quote. If they are on top of things, when you say that you haven't been insured they should work out the extra that has to be added to your premium. Basically, you pay something like a fine, but they spread it out very far (in my case, for 5 years spread per month) and it's not like back-paying from the point when you entered the country. It probably won't end up being a lot extra per month, actually - I was terrified that I was going to have to pay something horrific in one go as back-pay and in the end I have a very manageable monthly addition to my very cheap plan (it adds somewhere between 50-100 per month, which is much more than nothing but much less than what I thought it was going to be).

One really big thing is to make sure you get accident insurance, whether as part of your health insurance or not. It doesn't cost a lot per year and it's very important.
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