Since the beginning of the pandemic, anyone requiring a test for SARS-CoV-2 in Switzerland has had to pay for it themselves.
On 4 March 2020, ten days after the first case had been identified in Switzerland, the government announced that tests could be claimed against health insurance. For many this meant that 90% of the cost was covered. For others, with deductibles, it meant they had to pay all of the cost. Only a few with high medical expenditure for the year would have 100% of the cost covered. In some cases cantons covered part of the cost.
Switzerland’s system of compulsory health insurance requires patients to contribute 10% of medical costs up to a maximum of CHF 700 per year. In addition, those with deductibles must pay 100% of treatment costs up to the limit of their deductible.
Recognising the financial disincentive this policy has had on getting tested, on 24 June 2020, Switzerland’s federal government announced that it would cover the costs of SARS-CoV-2 tests from 25 June 2020. The decision comes four months after the first case of Covid-19 was identified in a 70 year-old man in Ticino, Switzerland.
The federal government will reimburse the cost of tests for SARS-CoV-2 at a flat rate of CHF 169, and of antibody tests at a rate of CHF 113 francs, although antibody tests are not currently recommended. There are detailed rules that must be followed to ensure the tests are covered – the requirements set out here in French, here in German and here in English. The Federal Council has requested CHF 288 million to cover the cost of the programme.
On 19 June 2020, the Swiss government downgraded the situation from extraordinary and eased anti-spread measures further. Following an easing of restrictions, it is vital to be able to monitor the situation closely, respond rapidly to an increase in the number of cases and to be able to break chains of infection, said the government. Testing is a key part of this.
The number of tests in Switzerland stagnated in May 2020. However, since then the number has picked up. Switzerland’s rate of test positivity is running at around 0.4%. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a target test positivity rate of under 5%. Switzerland is well below this. Test positivity is the percentage of tests that are positive. Low positivity indicates a low probability of undetected infections. By contrast, the same rate in the US was 5.2% on 22 June 2020, up from a low of 4.5% six days earlier.
A cluster of infections was found in the canton of Zug last week, according to the newspaper 20 Minutes. 53 people were placed in quarantine after the infections were linked to contacts at work, home and socially.
On 24 June 2020, Switzerland’s government reported 46 new cases of infection and 2 deaths across the country.