What you should know about medication and generics

Medicines can sometimes be the best solution for your health. Many medications are covered by the basic insurance. Supplementary insurance increases the choice of medications for which you can reclaim a proportion of the costs.

Apotheker führt Beratungsgespräch mit Kundin

The Federal Office of Public Health specifies which medications may be paid for from the basic insurance. Supplementary insurance enables you to significantly increase the range of medications for which you can reclaim the costs.

You can only be refunded the costs of medications that have been medically prescribed. However, you can help to keep your own costs, and healthcare costs in general, to a minimum by choosing a lower-cost generic medication. You can save even more by ordering it from an online pharmacy. 

Further information on online pharmacies

Medicines are patent-protected for a fixed period, after which generics or biosimilars may be produced. 

Generics in brief

Generics contain the same active ingredient as the original medication and have the same effect in the body (bioequivalence). Possible differences are the manufacturer, the name of the medication, the excipients, the pharmaceutical form and the price. Generics are usually cheaper than the original medications.

If you choose generics instead of the original medications from the list of medications with a higher excess, you pay only 10 percent instead of 20 percent excess.

Please note: not all medications have a generic version. If the original medication is already sold for a very low price, generics may not be cost-effective. In this case the medication simply cannot be produced and sold for an even lower price.

List of medications with higher excess

Biosimilars in brief

Biosimilars are drugs that imitate a biotechnologically produced medication. They have strong similarities to the original product. However, they are never an exact copy due to the complex manufacturing processes involved. They are usually priced at a level well below that of the original products.

Talk to your GP if you would like to switch to a biosimilar.

Medications: benefits covered by insurance

Basic insurance

Basic insurance covers the costs of medically prescribed medications that are included in the specialities list or come under Art. 71a-d of the Health Insurance Ordinance KVV (case-by-case assessment).

More about basic insurance More about reimbursement for medications under Art. 71a-d of the Health Insurance Ordinance KVV

TOP supplementary insurance

With TOP supplementary insurance, you receive 90% of the costs of all medically prescribed medications not covered by basic insurance. These are known as “non-reimbursed medications”.

More on TOP supplementary insurance

SANA supplementary insurance

With SANA supplementary insurance, you receive 75% of the costs of all medications prescribed by a physician or naturopath that are not covered by basic insurance. These are known as “non-reimbursed medications”.

More on SANA

COMPLETA supplementary insurance

With COMPLETA supplementary insurance, you receive 90% of the costs of conventional medications and 75% of the costs of complementary medicine remedies that are not covered by your basic insurance. These are known as “non-reimbursed medications”.

More on COMPLETA

Good to know

For the costs to be reimbursed by the supplementary insurance, the remedy used must be recognised by the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products Swissmedic. Medications included in the list of pharmaceutical products with special uses (Liste der Präparate mit spezieller Verwendung (LPPV)) or the supplementary list are excluded.

Further information

Articles about this topic

Do you have questions?

We're here to help.