The first steps towards independence as a therapist

Published on 12/03/2024

Schritte in die Selbständigkeit für Therapeuten

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You have just completed your studies as a therapist, or have you already worked in the field? You now want to take the leap and take the status of self-employed? Well, congratulations!

As you can imagine, self-employment involves a number of legal and administrative hurdles. That’s why we’ve put together a small guide to help you take your first steps towards self-employment. Don’t worry, it’s easier as it might look.


Cantonal professional licence

The status of a self-employed therapist requires a licence in all cantons. As legislation in the healthcare sector is administered at the cantonal level, each cantonal health authority is responsible for issuing the professional licence. Depending on the canton, different documents may be required of you.

In principle, however, the following applies everywhere: You must submit a signed application form, a current CV, an extract from your criminal record, an extract from the debt collection register, a copy of your federal diploma, or a copy of the confirmation of recognition of your foreign diploma (issued by the Medizinalberufekommission (MEBEKO), Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)).

In addition, you may be asked to provide information about possible mental and physical impairments. The Swiss Association of Naturopaths has compiled a useful and detailed list of cantonal requirements for the various forms of therapy.


Recognition as self-employment

In principle, an activity can be classified as self-employment if it is carried out on your own account and at your own risk, within your own infrastructure (office, work equipment, etc.) and for several different clients.


Registration with the compensation office

If you are self-employed, you must register with the compensation office, which is part of the AHV. This will prevent you from having to make additional payments that are subject to penalties for late payment. The AHV compensation office will then decide whether your new activity can be classified as self-employed.

To register, contact the cantonal compensation office directly or the compensation office of your professional or trade association.


Additional insurances

As a self-employed person, you are always dependent on AHV and IV. You can therefore apply for compensation for loss of earnings, which may be due to military service or maternity, among other things.

However, you are no longer automatically insured by other insurers. It is therefore advisable to take out accident insurance and daily sickness benefits insurance at the start of your self-employed activity. This will give you a higher level of insurance coverage.


Recognized in health insurance thanks to the number of the creditor code register (ZSR no.)

As a therapist, you need a ZSR number, which is issued by the canton in the same way as a professional licence. You will only receive it if you can present your cantonal professional licence.

The ZSR number allows you to work as a self-employed person at the expense of health insurance. It is to be distinguished from the C number, which is required if the services are provided as part of an employment relationship at the expense of the health insurer.

The ZSR number is mandatory on invoices to health insurers, as health insurers can use this number to automatically check which methods are or were recognised by which therapist and when.


Legitimacy through certification

It is advisable to be certified as an independent therapist, for example, by the EMR, the Empirical Medicine Register, or by the ASCA, the Swiss Foundation for Complementary Medicine.
In this way, you can participate in the reputable training of therapists in the field of alternative and complementary medicine.


The ASCA, the Swiss Foundation for Complementary Medicine

The ASCA, for example, guarantees you a certain image as a reputable and professional therapist. Similar to many health insurance companies, the ASCA certificate is a seal of quality on the basis of which services are reimbursed. The ASCA works with numerous insurance partners.

As soon as you have completed your training, you can apply for a ZSR number, e.g. from the ASCA. To do this, you will need your training certificate, which will then be checked and authorised by the ASCA. Once all the necessary elements of the training have been completed, you can become an ASCA member and receive your ZSR number.


Cooperation between ASCA and OneDoc

ASCA certification also brings other advantages, for example, ASCA cooperates with the practice management solution OneDoc (connected appointment calendar, patient database, invoicing according to tariff 590, online booking…). All you need to log in to OneDoc are your myASCA login details.

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