Health insurance costs in Switzerland to rise by 8,7 percent
The Health Minister and President of Switzerland has confirmed that the cost of health insurance will rise significantly when premiums are renewed for 2024. Speaking at a press conference, Alain Berset explained that the heightened cost of healthcare is to blame for the rise, which is expected to impact everyone who calls the alpine nation home.
Swiss health insurance costs to rise by 8,7 percent
At a conference on September 26, Berset confirmed that the median premium for basic and supplemental health insurance in Switzerland would increase to 359 francs a month from 2024. This amounts to an increase of 28,70 francs a month, or 8,7 percent compared to median premiums in 2023.
The Health Minister explained that the rise is necessary due to the increased cost of healthcare, noting that the average running cost quoted by Swiss hospitals has risen by 8,5 percent in the last year - a phenomenon blamed on the ageing population and the release of new medicines and treatments. While the total number of doctor's appointments did not rise in the last year, the average cost of a visit has increased.
Insurance firms struggle to cope with rising costs
The rising costs are having a significant impact on Swiss health insurance providers. The government noted that insurance firms spent 4.150 francs per person on healthcare in the last year, but only received 3.950 francs per person in premiums and deductibles.
Insurance companies have also been affected by the large number of people who chose to switch to cheaper health insurance deals when premiums were raised last year. As a result of these factors, and the unstable stock market situation, the amount of money providers have in reserve has fallen from 12,1 billion francs at the start of 2022 to 8,5 billion today.
By how much will my Swiss insurance premium increase?
While all insurance packages will cost more next year, price increases will differ depending on age and the canton the insurance is registered in. For instance, young people between 18 and 25 years old will see their premiums rise fastest in Ticino (12,2 percent), while the smallest increases will be recorded in Basel-Stadt (5,5 percent).
For those over 25, Canton Zug will register the highest increases this year at 10,4 percent, followed by Ticino and Appenzell Ausserhoden at over 10 percent - Ticino will have the most expensive health insurance on average next year. Appenzell Innerrhoden will see the smallest rise and remain the canton with the cheapest health insurance for adults in Switzerland.
Who will be affected by the increased insurance costs?
As health insurance is mandatory, the cost increase will impact all Swiss citizens and internationals who hold residence permits. A message outlining what the increase will be for specific insurance packages will be sent to policyholders via post or an email from providers, and will arrive before the official deadline of October 31.
Everyone needs to do their part to reduce premiums, says Berset
While acknowledging that the Swiss healthcare system remains good and largely devoid of waiting times, Federal Office of Public Health director Anne Lévy noted that the system is “actively used” and has to cope with an ageing population. For his part, Berset said that “the health system is very important to all of us, but it is a system that is difficult to control…Every actor, including parliament, must now assume their responsibility [for the premium increase].”
He argued that in order to reduce insurance costs, “Doctors have to do their part; in the past, they have been stubborn about austerity measures.” “Last but not least, as a private individual you also have to ask yourself to a certain point whether a visit to the doctor is really necessary or not - and if it is necessary, then perhaps it doesn't necessarily have to be the expensive specialist, but maybe the family doctor (GP)”, he noted.
The minister, who is stepping down at the end of this year, warned that, among other issues, the cost of insurance premiums was becoming “too big” of a problem. “I have done everything that came to mind for the last 11 years,” he noted, advising whoever succeeds him that they need to work tirelessly to reduce premiums and adding that his successor will also need to acknowledge that simple-sounding solutions are not the way forward.
Insurance price hikes to impact the cost of living
The premium increase comes as many families and individuals in Switzerland continue to grapple with the rising cost of living. Indeed, a new study by Watson found that while average salaries have risen by 29 percent between 1996 and today, the average cost of health insurance has risen by 145 percent.
The announcement also comes in the lead-up to the Swiss federal elections in October, with many parties expected to put health insurance costs - and the causes of the increase, as defined by each party - at the centre of their campaigns. This has included calls for a public health insurance provider or premiums based on earnings from the Social Democratic Party, while the Swiss People’s Party are likely to use the increase to justify their anti-immigration messaging.
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