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Old 12.09.2018, 03:34
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US International health care vs. Swiss

Hi all -- does anyone have experience using healthcare from their non-eu home country vs. Switzerland? I'm an American and am looking at an international quote from Cigna and the platinum plan is cheaper than all the comparis quotes I'm getting. Just wondering if it'll be hell if something actually happens (I'm usually very healthy, so not predicting that:P).
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Old 12.09.2018, 08:33
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

If you're resident in Switzerland you're obliged to take health insurance from a recognized Swiss health provider. There are some exceptions for students, researchers, short-stay, but otherwise if you don't take out insurance, the local authority will do it for you, choosing a random supplier, who is unlikely to be the best deal for you.
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Old 12.09.2018, 08:44
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

You could ask if such a policy would be acceptable, but very few are.
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Old 12.09.2018, 09:09
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

Permission is definitely required. Of course the UN and some organisations are exempt from using a Swiss provider. But they (the organisation) are required to provide insurance. The ILO, for example, self insures.
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Old 12.09.2018, 09:50
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

It's a bit like Obamacare here, just it works better and most of us are happy with it.


Sure it is expensive but so is the level of care you get when it goes wrong for you
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Old 12.09.2018, 12:00
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

US healthcare vs. Swiss healthcare...this is one of the best jokes I've heard.
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Old 12.09.2018, 13:59
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

We were on Cigna (and Bupa) instead of Swiss insurance during the first five years we were here. We had an exception to the usual rule, as OH was here on a secondment, all sorts of differences applied, with the blessing of the canton and the Permit Gods.

Cigna (and Bupa) were fantastic; gold plated coverage, private hospitalization, etc. at no cost (OH's employer paid the full premium, as they would have in the States.) However, I was younger and healthier, and so only used it rarely, for very minor things. Colleagues also on secondment had extensive treatment on Cigna, the best hospitals, treatment by a Chefartz, etc., and were very happy with the plan.

Do bear in mind that all this was free to the employee, both premium and deductible (franchise) - I do not know what the company paid. If you are paying for Cigna yourself that might tip the equation in another direction.

Once OH transferred from secondment status to local we of course had to buy Swiss insurance, Cigna was no longer acceptable on local status.

If I could have compared the gold-plated Cigna coverage to Swiss private insurance, they likely would have been about equal in terms of coverage. IIRC, Swiss private would have been more expensive than Cigna, but this was a long time ago so I have no idea how today's prices would stack up.

However - by the time we transferred to local status I couldn't qualify for Swiss private insurance, age and pre-existing conditions meant that I could only get Swiss basic insurance. And that is an apples/oranges comparison.

So a cautionary note: If you think you are here for longer than a secondment with exception will allow, perhaps it would be better to get private or semi-private Swiss insurance now, if you are young enough and healthy enough to qualify, because later on you might not be able to get that level of cover.

If you know that you will leave when the secondment is over, if there is no chance that you will stay beyond the period where you get the insurance exception, then Cigna is a very good plan.

So there is a whole lotta YMMV in this decision.

And bear in mind that it all hinges on being granted an exception from the canton. IIRC OH's employer had to apply for the exception, he had nothing to do with it - but again, this was a long time ago.

All the best...
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Old 12.09.2018, 14:36
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

Thanks so much @meloncollie. He is covered by a scholarship as a student and I am self-employed so I will be paying out of pocket. We are only in Switzerland until the end of June 2019, so not a long period (also, we are early 30's, very healthy if that matters).

I thought the Swiss plans might be less of a headache in terms of approval for my permit, but it does seem that Cigna offers options that the Canton might approve of.


@catandmouse, I was told that for my situation I could find something with appropriate/comparable coverage and be approved. Just curious about anybody else who's done it and has good or bad things to say/
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Old 12.09.2018, 15:26
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

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We were on Cigna (and Bupa) instead of Swiss insurance during the first five years we were here. We had an exception to the usual rule, as OH was here on a secondment
Same for us and the permission had to be renewed every year in our case. They took that exception away the moment we were localised.

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He is covered by a scholarship as a student and I am self-employed so I will be paying out of pocket. We are only in Switzerland until the end of June 2019,
Extremely unlikely that Kanton will agree in such a case.

And more importantly, since you are here for such short time, why add a complication, especially as the savings are going to be minimal for short time.
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Old 13.09.2018, 08:55
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

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...

@catandmouse, I was told that for my situation I could find something with appropriate/comparable coverage and be approved. Just curious about anybody else who's done it and has good or bad things to say/
All health insurance companies will have to take you on for basic insurance (LAMAL). There are no exclusions or reserves. The LAMAL is heavily regulated and you will have the same coverage whichever company you choose, though there are differences in premiums. The LAMAL coverage is pretty extensive and many people don't take on supplementary insurance, but the supplementary is non-regulated and the insurance companies can choose who and under what conditions they want to insure.
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Old 13.09.2018, 09:41
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Re: US International health care vs. Swiss

Just my comment on Cigna. I was on Cigna for 7 years when I was an expat in Singapore. Don't know the cost as ex-husband's company paid for it all, but Cigna was wonderful.
Gone through various medical issues during that time including hospitalization, and I haven't had one negative experience.
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