Long-term illness financial impact

I had hard time to pick-up right category for this one, feel free to move where it fits best.

Recently my family has been hit with bad news - my wife has been diagnosed with cancer. The “good” side of this is that it has been detected very early and is already removed, but my wife has to go through chemotherapy anyway.

As I’m family’s “fund manager”, I would like to ask you about some advice regarding financial aspect of such situation. Maybe this topic will also help the others prepare better for such events - even though I hope you will be spared from this…

Currently my list of questions looks like this:

  1. Salary - my wife’s employer seems to be insured for long-term sickness, so my current understanding is that my wife will be getting 80% of the salary until she can go back to work. I don’t know yet the details of that contract, but probably I should assume that there will be no 2nd pillar contributions, next year bonus will be lowered by the amount of unavailability at work and things like this?
  2. Life insurance - as we have bought the house, since about a year we were thinking about buying one (eg. with VIAC), but now I’m concerned that it would not work anyway, in case something happens to my wife which will be cancer-related. Do you know how does it work and if it still makes sense to buy such insurance?
  3. Health insurance - am I right that now if we would like to change health insurance at some point and buy complementary one, it would anyway won’t work for cancer-related expenses? So we are kind of stuck with current insurance (fortunately we already had a good one, so I think most of the expenses will be covered anyway).
  4. Permanent health deterioration - our friend from Germany after going through chemotherapy has been stated with some % of permanent health deterioration. This gives her some “advantages”, like discounts, lower tax-rate (if I’m not wrong), etc. Are you aware about anything similar in Switzerland?
  5. General insurances - I must admit that insurances were always the worst part of our financial management. By this I mean that, so far we were probably over-insured, maybe we already miss some opportunities to fill the claims etc. So my question here is: is there anything in current set of insurances most of people already have, which can be claimed in such situation? I don’t think so, as for example accidents insurance provided by employer is for something else, but anyway I prefer to ask to be sure.
  6. Any other advices?

Please, don’t have the feeling that I would like to “profit” from this situation, cheat the insurance system etc. I’m asking just because I was never thinking about such things and I just don’t want to overlook something we can and have rights to do (eg. by simply not knowing about it). Thank you in advance!


Sorry you’re going through that. All the best to your wife! I’ll try to answer some of the things. Please everybody, correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not an expert in insurance, just speaking from personal experience.

So usually the Krankentaggeldversicherung covers 80% (some more AFAIK) for 2 years and after that IV (social security) steps in. 2nd pillar contributions will continue on (it did for me).

That’s been my experience. You might get complementary insurance, but they will take out everything related to pre-existing conditions. Also be aware, adding to your first question: I switched jobs a year after returning to work after an illness. The new Krankentaggeldversicherung “took out” any future claims related to my pre existing condition for five years after.

I’m not aware of anything like that if you’re wife regains 100% of her ability. If for any reason the IV finds that she’s not able to return to the workforce then possibly.

So I’ve worked in hospitals and all of them have social workers / social advisors who the patients have access to ask any questions regarding financial, social and legal claims. Talk to her care team and ask about it. The social workers will most likely be more knowledgeable since they deal with these sort of things daily.

If you can, take some time off to spend with your wife. Get some help at home. Get a psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist to talk about it all. These illnesses are hard on the patient, but they are hard on the family too. Talk to the care team of your wife, the hospital might have therapists on staff for the family of patients (mine had that).

I’m sure you’ll get more and better advice from other people here, just thought I’d start with what I know. All the best!


@s0974748 has already offered more advice than I ever could, but I wanted to express that I am sorry to hear you are going through this and I wish you the best of luck.


Thank you for all the advices. Regarding above - yes, I’m aware of it and I try to support my wife as much as I can. I would also like to say that so far we are very satisfied with all the help, approach, support and treatments my wife is getting from doctors, nurses and other specialists. We are really lucky to be in the right place during those hard times…

I’m joining my voice to the others to wish you strength and positive outlook through all of this. As mentioned by @s0974748, it is important that you support your wife but it is also important that you take care of yourself: being the supporting partner takes a lot of energy, it’s important to acknowledge it and surround yourself with help that can support you too.

I’m no specialist and others will complete/correct if they see the need for it. @s0974748 has already given good answers, I’ll complete if I can:

My understanding is that it depends on the terms of the policy. Those insurances aren’t required, though they do tend to follow the same general basis (there’s a minimal period of time during which the employer has to pay a full salary, which can be replaced by policies such as the one covering your wife, provided the full benefits are at least equivalent to the legal minimum).
[DE]: Verhinderung des Arbeitnehmers an der Arbeitsleistung
[FR]: Empêchement de travailler
[IT]: Impedimento al lavoro

Note that if you are required to take care of your wife and must do so during your working hours, there is a right to a few days of paid leave (3 per occurrence, with a cap as to the total amount of days) that you can call upon (best to discuss it with your employer first, though, as it’s always better to do things with a mutual understanding).

The second pillar contributions may no longer be due past a given time (I think usually 3 months), or they may continue. There again, it depends on the specific terms of the 2nd pillar policy.

The bonus may or may not be covered. I guess the work contract should specify if it is something that is contractually owed to her, or if it is discretionary for the employer to award it.

For life and health insurance:

I would ask some insurers about what they would be willing to offer and how your wife’s situation would be handled. While it would be ideal to be able to cover your wife, it may also be worth it to evaluate if you should take a policy for yourself too. As I understand it, you are still healthy and your situation could deteriorate if you happen to be the one next struck by some illness/disability/death.

I’m not aware of such things in Switzerland. As mentioned by @s0974748, there are situations where IV/AI would consider a partial disability, in which case, they may be able to provide services not limited to a disability pension. If not done already, you may want to contact the Krebsliga/ligue contre le cancer/lega contro il cancro: https://www.krebsliga.ch/
They will probably be the best people available to answer all the questions you could have and advise you. That would be my first step.

If your wife (and/or you) have a complementary health insurance, some covered services might be of use like quality of life medical care or sessions with a psychologist/therapist. I’d check the policy to see what use you would have of the things covered. Life insurance may offer some benefits. A travel insurance may cover cancelling fees for travels you may have already booked that you could not make because of the treatment.

That is not the image you project. You are dealing with a tough situation and it’s the first time you are exposed to one like this. Searching for information is the smart and 100% legitimate way to go.


Thank you for exhaustive answers!

Yes, of course, the idea was to buy it for both of us, so the other gets something, hopefully not to be forced to sell the house after some catastrophic events. And the plan is the same still - there are just now those doubts related to my wife’s illness.

Thank you!

Thank you for this one too. This situation and openness of people who are sharing with us their stories (so many cancers and other very tough and sad stories around) is showing us, that so far, we were simply very lucky in our lives. We now just need to find the strength to go through it and hopefully “forgot” about it at some point.


Speaking of selling the house during catastrophic health events - maybe a stupid question to people who’ve been living in Switzerland for a long time but for the new residents it might not be clear whether the insurance company (or state?) pays 100 % of your chemotherapy and any related cancer treatments cost or you have to pay something out of your pocket? Is there a difference if you have a B or C permit?

I know cancer treatment expenses can run into hundreds of thousands of francs so it’s good to know what awaits you in case you have to go through the cancer treatment god forbid. I’m sorry for your wife, her family and you.

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If you have the mandatory health insurance, the insurance covers all costs a part from the initials 300-2500CHF per year depending on your insurance and up to 700CHF in addition which cover the 10% of additional treatments. After that all is covered.

It does not change if you have B or C permit. I don’t know what happens if the B permit expires though.