Students in this group are subject to the Swiss Health Insurance Act (LAMal). While they are still at school, they are affiliated to a health insurance provider and covered by the same provider for illness, accident and pregnancy. Top-up accident insurance costs an additional amount per month.
If the student changes insurer, they will be immediately covered against the risk of accidents. If applicable, they will need to show that they are already covered against professional and non-professional accidents by their employer (provided they work at least eight hours a week ; if they work less than eight hours a week, their employer will only cover the professional accidents) and therefore do not require duplicate cover from their health insurance provider.
The level of premium payable under the Health Insurance Act varies according to the level of annual excess chosen by the policyholder. The higher the excess, the lower the level of monthly premium. The level of annual excess ranges from CHF 300 to CHF 2,500.
The annual excess is the amount payable for the medical services used by the policyholder that the insurer will not reimburse. This means that medical costs up to the amount chosen are payable by the policyholder.
For example, a student who chooses an excess of CHF 1,000 will have to pay their own medical expenses during the calendar year up to this amount. Above this amount, medical expenses will be covered by their insurance but the policyholder will still be required to contribute 10% of the cost of each bill (up to a maximum of CHF 700 per calendar year).
While opting for a higher excess may be sensible when you are young and in good health, it is important to remember that this excess also applies to the risk of accidents. As a result, a student who chooses a high level of excess needs to remember that they would need to have the necessary funds available if they needed treatment following an accident.
Finally, it is possible to change your LAMal health insurance provider each year. Any provider the student contacts is obliged to enter into a contract, which means they cannot refuse to provide cover for them. The cover provided is identical, regardless of which LAMal (basic insurance) provider is chosen.
The only difference – but it is an important one – may be how services are reimbursed: the “third-party payment” system means that the insurer receives bills directly from care providers and pays them in full (once the annual excess has been reached) and then asks the policyholder to pay their contribution to the cost (the 10% mentioned above). The “third-party guarantor” system is the one provided for by default in the LAMal and the most common, and means that the policyholder has to pay their medical bills upfront and then request reimbursement from their insurer. If cash flow is likely to be a problem, it is strongly recommended that you choose an insurer that offers the “third-party payment” system.
Finally, students who have the necessary resources can also take out top-up insurance to cover any expenses that are not covered by their LAMal insurer (for example, care in a semi-private hospital or to cover expenses for alternative treatments).
These students can be exempted from taking out LAMal health insurance by the cantonal health insurance service in the canton where they live, if they present a copy of their European Health Insurance Card and student card or certificate of studies. It is not necessary to provide the health insurance equivalence verification form. Necessary medical expenses incurred by the student during their stay in Switzerland will be reimbursed by the social security system in their country of origin.
We recommend that European students register with the LAMal Common Institution, which acts as a link between the care provider and the social security system in their country of origin. Presenting your European Health Insurance Card to care providers (doctors, hospitals, on-call medical services, etc.) means that the bill for your treatment will be forwarded directly to the LAMal Common Institution, which will pay the service provider and then arrange to be reimbursed by the social security system in the country of origin concerned (the so-called “third-party payment” system), subject to payment of an excess of CHF 92 for a period of 30 days, which is payable by the student.
If the student is not registered with the LAMal Common Institution, they will have to pay their own medical expenses following their treatment and then send the bill to their social security office for reimbursement (the so-called “third-party guarantor”) system. In this case, the student must have the necessary resources to pay their own medical bills and wait for reimbursement.
In addition, students who use the LAMal Common Institution are guaranteed that their medical care will be covered financially at the Swiss rate. Otherwise, the social security system in their own country may reimburse the treatment provided in Switzerland at the level it would have cost if it had been provided in their country of origin. In general, medical services in Switzerland are more expensive than elsewhere in Europe.
Students over the age of 25 are covered in the same way, provided they are studying for their first qualification. If, however, they are pursuing a second course of study or specialisation, cover via the European Health Insurance Card is no longer guaranteed. Students in this situation should check with the social security office in their country of residence.
Note: All medical expenses listed in the catalogue of services included under basic insurance are covered for students while they are in Switzerland, including scheduled treatments. Students do not need to complete an S2 form.
Students who wish to be exempted from the obligation to be insured under the LAMal system, and who have health insurance in their country of origin, must apply to have their insurance recognised by the relevant authority in the canton where they live. For Vaud canton, this is the Office vaudois de l'assurance-maladie (OVAM). The student must send OVAM their duly completed health insurance equivalence verification form, stamped and signed by their foreign insurer, and a certificate of studies. It is important for the foreign insurer to confirm that it offers cover against the risks of sickness and accident equivalent to the covered provided under the LAMal. On receipt of the documents, the OVAM will decide whether an exemption from compulsory health insurance applies.
If the foreign insurer cannot guarantee cover for the minimum level of risks required and/or the relevant authority does not recognise the equivalence, the student can take out a health insurance policy for foreign students in Switzerland and then have it recognised by the relevant authority, as described above.
Note: health insurance policies for foreign students are not subject to the LAMal but the Federal Insurance Contracts Act (LCA). This means that they have the right to require a medical questionnaire when examining the student’s application for insurance and are not under any obligation to accept them.
In this situation, the student will be obliged to take out LAMal health insurance, which is significantly more expensive. Depending on their state of health, it is recommended that the student take out LAMal health insurance on arrival, while the foreign students’ insurance provider examines their application, as if it is rejected, the student will have to pay an additional LAMal insurance premium for joining the scheme late.
The ECA (Cantonal Establishment of Insurance) is informed of your presence in the canton by the Residents’ Registration Office of your commune of residence, for the time of a visit, when you arrive in the commune or when you move out of the commune. The weeks following your registration to the commune, you will receive a letter from the ECA, in order that you insure your household contents and personal property (furniture, clothing, electronic devices, equipment etc.) against fire (fire, explosions, smoke, etc.) and natural disasters (flooding, hail, hurricanes : violent windstorms, etc.). This insurance is compulsory for all residents of the canton (article 27 of the law concerning building insurance and personal property insurance against fire and natural disasters - LAIEN).
More information can be found on the ECA website.
Your regional agency is at your disposal here.
You are strongly recommended to take out public liability insurance to cover you in the following situations:
Household insurance provides cover for your personal belongings (furniture, television, computer, etc.). There are numerous insurance options available and it is very common to find packages that combine household and public liability insurance.
Office vaudois de l'assurance-maladie (OVAM)
Ch. de Mornex 40
+41 (0) 21 557 47 47
Institution commune LAMal
+41 (0) 32 625 30 30
Health insurances for international students
You usually should be able to take out such an insurance directly online. An assistance is generally offered to help you choose the best insurance solution for you. Every insurance company has to offer at least the same cover as a LAMal Swiss insurance but you can still choose a larger cover (teeth insurance, etc.). Please compare carefully different offers before to make your choice.
Here are some insurance solutions for international students :