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Old 29.08.2017, 15:44
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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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Old 29.08.2017, 15:57
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Re: Advice for those who are late with their health insurance

As a student, you have access to heavily subsidised health insurance....
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Old 29.08.2017, 15:59
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Re: Advice for those who are late with their health insurance

Depending on the canton, though, you have to start paying first and it can take up to a year for the subsidy to start, based on people I know who have applied for it.
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Old 29.08.2017, 16:17
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Re: Advice for those who are late with their health insurance

Um, no. SwissCare which specialises in student health insurance starts at 65 francs a month.

Any insurance you take out will have a franchise figure which you decide from 300 to 2,500 francs. This is what you will have to pay before any insurance policy kicks in. So if you're young and healthy then most people go for the 2,500 because the insurane premiums are then lower. The drawback to that is if you do have to see a doctor you have to pay the bills up to that 2,500 figure before the insurance will pick up most of the cost.
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Old 29.08.2017, 19:04
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Re: Advice for those who are late with their health insurance

Well I'm not a specialist but common sense would say that there isn't much anyone can say for sure on whether you could go "the risky way" or not...

You're basically asking whether to lie to the insurance company about your effective residence start date. The thing to remember is that insurance companies are commercial companies and not the canton's policeman. The canton is the one enforcing the insurance policy, the companies may care about it but maybe not as much as getting you as a customer for instance. Some may be picky about it, some may not. They can just take your word and sign you up and then you're insured. But then the company or the canton may come back later and say "hey, you should have been insured since..." and ask for the rest of the money.

Not sure what you meant by "I am now fully resident here" but the canton will consider as starting date the date you got your permit (I think you might have a 3 month leeway as well). Most people I know around here have got a letter from the canton within of 3 months of settling in, asking for the insurance policy, so do take into account that checks happen as a matter of routine.

Whatever you do, do not sweat too much about it and get yourself into the system and sorted because the risks of not being in the system are just too big. You can also try to get advice from your education establishment whether as a student you have any facilities, etc.
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