The need for more mental health support that is affordable has become clearly evident. The way psychotherapy is accessed and billed is changing in Switzerland. As of March 2022 the Swiss Goverment approved that Psychotherapists can now bill psychotherapy directly to the OPK (Obligatorisch KrankenPflegeversicherung – English roughly translated as the “obligatory health insurance”). The goal is to make psychotherapy more widely available. Considering the impact on many of us, providers and clients, we think it is important to understand the changes and options. Here are some key points.
The ruling requires that:
- Doctors (usually a family doctor, or psychiatrist) give a referral for psychotherapy with therapist of choice among psychotherapists approved by the national health system.
- The Doctors sign off on a specific referral form which the client takes to the identified psychotherapist. (Here are Copies of Prescription Form available in French and German)
- Clients can then attend 15 sessions of psychotherapy and be reinbursed by the basic insurance.
- If more sessions are needed, a consultation and request is made between the referring doctor and psychotherapist prior to the 15th session.
- When approved, clients can attend an additional 15 sessions, for a total of 30 sessions.
- If, after these initial 30 sesssions, it is recomended by psychotherapist to continue sessions, an evaluation by a psychiatrist needs to be arranged by the referring Doctor.
In the case of crisis, any Doctor licensed in the Swiss Health System can refer a client for 10 crisis sessions. If it becomes clear that more sessions are necessary, the client can receive approval for 20 additional sessions via a prescription (“Anordnung”) by a “Fach Arzt” (psychiatrist, family Doctor) equivilant to 30 total sessons.
For Current Clients of Dr. Patricia Vriesendorp:
- You will need to fill in a Prescription Form (see above) indicating Patricia Vriesendorp as your therapist and have it signed by your Doctor. Both your Doctor and Therapist should have acess to the form. Information:
name/institiution: Patricia Vriesendorp, C2
Address: Bahnhofplatz 7, 2502 Biel-Bienne
- Keep in mind any groups billed to via the basic insurance will be taken from your session times as well. If you are in regular individual therapy, it is recommended that you self-pay for those.
- Keep in mind the fees for services are higher, but more services (such as, reports, preparation, consultations with others) are covered.
- Session mostly likely can not be weekly due the limited total number of sessions.
For Current Clients of Dr. Elizabeth Frei.
- You will not be able to be reimbursed by the basic insurance for any sessions after December 31, 2022.
- You will need to self-pay after December 31, 2022 until further notification. To continue to receive support, but at less financial cost, you can also adjust the frequency or length of your sessions and/or combine with other support services within C2 that are less expensive (Workshops, Groups, Self-Care Community).
- If this is not enough, you can also choose to find a new therapist who can be reimbursed by the insurance. Keep in mind many also have waiting lists.
If you are seeking a new therapist, check the following:
- Are they a licensed psychotherapist? Can they bill via the basic insurance?
- If not, can they bill via supplementary insurance? Which ones? And for how much?
If not, you will need to pay out of pocket for therapy and/or explore other options.
For those who are not able to be seen by Dr. Vriesendorp or Dr. Frei, there are many competent therapists who can provide support with a wide range of problems that impact our mental health – they include but are not limited to psychologists, body work therapist, counselors and coaches. Some are covered by suplimentary insurance, e.g even some body work therapists can also bill via supplementary insurance. Many of the self-pay therapist do not have a waiting list and you can begin therapy more quickly. It is important to pay attention to how you feel with the service provider. If you feel comfortable with them, and have a sense that they respect and assess your difficulties well that can be an excellent way to begin obtaining support.
Other options could include:
- Attending one of our workshops or joining a therapy group. You can find these on our Events Page.
They are typically cheaper than an individual session and provide a larger sense of community and connection many find helpful.
- Explore other mental health providers: We have a listed a wide range of english speaking support professionals on our Professional Network page. Our trainees (Carolin Baez and Laura Wadhwa) also provide services at discounted rates and our supervised by Dr. Frei and Dr. Vriesendorp.
- You can search for other psychologists/therapists via the Federation for Swiss Psychologists FSP FSP Website or Association Schweizer Psychotherapeuten ASP website.
- Try Self-help resources. We provide a range of on-line resources (audios, videos, and worksheets) that can provide additional support. For a small fee you can sign up for that under our Self-Care Community.
Due to the short time frame in which these changes are being implemented and some of the limitations pointed out by various professionals involved in service delivery, it is anticipated that there will continue to be requests to adjust the system. If you are dissatisfied, or have certain questions, please do not hesitate to ask your Doctor, therapist, local politician or contact the ministry of health (BAG Bundes Amt für Gesundheit).
If you would like to read more information about the obliged health insurance published by the Swiss Ministry of Health (BAG – Bundes Amt für Gezunheit) you can read about it Here.