Executive Board member Rudolf Bruder explains why the standard model's average premium has little meaning and how you can optimise your personal premium.
Mr Bruder, how much will we pay for our premiums in 2019?
Premiums will rise again this year, but at a lower level. Premiums increase every year because they track the development of benefit costs. But as always, customers should not fixate on the percentage that's being bandied around in the media. This percentage has nothing to do with your individual premium situation.
Can you explain this in more detail?
The media publish what's known as the average premium in the standard model. But this premium does not exist. Depending on the region where you live – and some cantons have up to three regions – and the model and deductible you choose, you pay a totally different premium. It usually isn't the same premium that you're reading about in the newspapers. All insured persons have the power to optimise their premiums so that they pay less without giving up any benefits.
How can you optimise your own premium?
You can choose an alternative insurance model or AIM. With the general practitioner model, for example, when you choose an HMO group practice, you already receive a discount of at least 12 percent. According to Helsana's premium report, some 70 percent of insured persons are already insured under an AIM. You can also save a lot by choosing a higher deductible. You can exclude your accident cover if you work more than eight hours per week for the same employer, as you're then insured via your employer. You should also check if you're entitled to a premium reduction. Information about this can be found on our website.
Can you also save on supplementary insurance?
Yes, here too there are several options. Check if you can join a group contract because you're a member of an association, take out a long-term policy, make use of the family discount and optimise your hospital cover by opting for semi-private rather than private cover and increasing the deductible. This way you can save a tidy sum while still being comfortably insured.
How can I be sure that I've fully optimised my premium?
The different products can be compared very easily on our website. Or you can contact our Customer Service in your region, who will be very happy to advise you. Make use of this opportunity, it's worth your while.
What are the most frequent questions that customers ask our Customer Service in autumn?
They very often ask about their saving potential. Insured persons also want to know exactly what benefits are covered by the product they've chosen. They ask about the notice periods, which aren't the same for the basic and supplementary insurance. We're also happy to explain to customers how the costs are composed, i.e. which factors drive up the costs. This promotes understanding and transparency. We also explain that the premiums aren't determined by us as the health insurance company, but by the Federal Office of Public Health.
Which customers call most frequently?
Interest is greatest in the regions where premiums rise most. The insured wish to understand how premiums are composed and why premiums have increased more in their region than elsewhere. When we explain this to them, we can promote a better understanding.
How do our employees prepare to answer all the questions about premiums and the premium increase?
The Customer Service employees are specially trained to do this, about topics that generally matter to all customers and also about topics of special interest to specific regions. The documents and training courses are adapted to current circumstances every year to ensure that all employees have the latest information. In October and November we can receive up to 50 percent more calls, which means that we answer some 50,000 customer calls per week. As it's quite clearly our mission to answer every call quickly and competently, more employees than usual answer the phones during our "season" and we're happy to work a few hours more.
What are your very personal tips for saving money, Mr Bruder?
My personal tips are the same as our recommendations: AIM and a higher deductible for the basic insurance. For supplementary insurance we attach importance to good supplementary cover with a long-term policy and family discount.