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More Swiss choose higher excess to cut health insurance premiums

In the face of spiralling health insurance costs, the Swiss are opting for higher excess thresholds to reduce their monthly premiums.

According to the Department for Social Security, half of all Swiss residents now pay lower health insurance premiums because they have upped their excess - or the amount they must pay each year before insurers are obliged to foot the bill.

The trend is nationwide but most marked in French-speaking western Switzerland and Italian-speaking canton Ticino, where up to 65 per cent of the population has an excess of SFr400 ($243) or more. The minimum excess is SFr230.

The move is thought to in response to soaring health insurance premiums, which rose by as much as seven per cent last year - several times the rate of inflation.

The trend is good news for health insurance firms, which say that clients with the minimum excess cost them an average of SFr221 a year. By contrast, clients with an excess of SFr400 generate a surplus of SFr107 for health insurers, in effect subsidising those with the minimum excess.

The reason high excess clients cost less is because they tend to visit the doctor less often.



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