From the moment of one birth or arrival to Switzerland, there are three months within which one has to obtain its compulsory health insurance. During this period the person is already insured and is free to choose a health insurance company from the list of authorised companies. You have to pay the premiums, a deductible and a retention fee. Only in exceptional cases, you may not be required to be insured.
Every insured person pays a monthly premium to the insurance company. The amount of the premium varies from insurer to insurer and from canton to canton. Children up to the age of 18 pay lower premiums. People on low incomes may be entitled to a premium reduction. You have to pay a share of the costs : if you require treatment, you will have to pay part of the costs. Your share is made up of a deductible, the retention fee and a contribution to the cost of a hospital stay.
The deductible (often referred as the "franchise") is the amount (CHF 300 for adults; children up to the age of 18 do not pay a deductible) that you have to pay towards your treatment costs every year. Only after this amount has been reached, the insurance company starts to pay out. If you want to reduce your premium, you are free to increase your deductible.
Even after the deductible has been exceeded, you still have to pay 10 per cent of any treatment costs. However, this charge, often referred to as a "retention fee", amounts to a maximum of CHF 700 yearly for adults and CHF 350 for children.