Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Insurance, ay ay ay

Now that our visa and residence permit applications have been sent in, Ashley and I have set our sights on the next big bureaucratic hurdle: our insurance. For us this is an especially important step, since we'll be moving to Lausanne before the baby comes. We know we'll be visiting doctors as soon as set foot in Switzerland, so it is absolutely critical that we have it all figured out by the time we leave!

Our situation is kind of unique, because Ashley is planning to continue working remotely from Lausanne next year. And right now I am enrolled as a spouse in her insurance plan through her employer. So there's a chance we can both just stay on this same plan, and then add the baby to the policy when the time comes. Simple enough, right?

I wish!

Once again, there has been a lot of conflicting information and fruitless googling going on here. Thankfully, I've been in touch with IMD's insurance support team, and they have been *extremely* helpful. They've done a tremendous job at explaining to us what we need to do, and answering all our questions so far. Big tip of the hat to them. I'll try to share what I learned from going through this process so far.

Switzerland requires a minimum level of coverage for all residents (I believe the specifics vary from canton to canton). We do have the choice to stick with our US insurance plan next year, but to do that we need to prove that it meets the canton's minimum requirements. So - of course - we need to submit some paperwork to request an exemption. Specifically, we must get our insurance company to sign off on this from the canton of Vaud, saying that our current plan meets the compulsory coverage listed.

It does sounds like keeping our current plan is the best case scenario. But even if we do get the sign-off from our insurance company on the exemption form, we need to do our homework and really understand what our policy covers and what it doesn't. Obviously, every doctor we visit in Switzerland will be "out-of-network", so our out-of-pocket costs will be significantly higher than they are now. We also really need to know our policy very well, and not leave anything to chance. The last thing we need is to deal with insurance claim nightmares during one of the busiest years of our lives!

The alternative option is to sign up for a Swiss insurance plan. In that case, there are two possibilities: First, there is the IMD insurance plan, which sounds like the more convenient and economical option for most students. From what I gather, spouses can be included in the student plan as well, unless they will be working during their stay in Switzerland.

The other possibility is to take a regular Swiss domestic policy, which sounds like the most expensive option. But depending on any preexisting conditions, or job situation may turn out to be the only option, so it's not impossible for a student to be on the IMD plan but the spouse to need a separate Swiss domestic policy.

This stuff is very confusing and overwhelming, but I think we've made great strides understanding our options so far. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will have the insurance finalized as well, so it will be one more item to check off the list!

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