On 9 December 2020, Switzerland’s federal government adopted a change to the rules on healthcare to make vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus free to the public.
The cost of vaccinations will be covered by health insurance, the cantons and Switzerland’s federal government.
Early on in the pandemic in March 2020, the Swiss government decided the cost of testing should be borne by health insurance companies and patients. Compulsory Swiss health insurance does not cover 100% of health care costs. Even those things that are covered must be paid 100% out of pocket by patients with deductibles until they reach the threshold of their deductible. In addition, 10% of health expenditure beyond the deductible up to a set limit must be covered out of pocket by every patient. This acted as a financial disincentive to get tested. In June 2020, Switzerland’s federal government made a u-turn and decided to make SARS-CoV-2 tests free.
Unlike with testing, the government has decided to remove all financial disincentives to getting vaccinated from the beginning.
The federal government will cover the cost of vaccine transport and distribution to the cantons as well as any vaccine cost above CHF 5 a dose.
Health insurance companies will cover the costs of medical consultations and the first CHF 5 of the vaccine cost regardless of a patient’s deductible.
Cantons will cover the cost of distribution within the canton and the 10% of medical costs normally covered by patients.
The vaccination programme is expected to cost Swiss health insurers between CHF 200 and 250 million and the federal government a similar sum.
The new rules will come into force on 1 January 2021. Switzerland has not yet approved any vaccines against the virus. Swissmedic, the national drug approval body, is expected to approve vaccines during the first quarter of 2021.