How is Switzerland planning to reduce health insurance costs?
After its victory at the federal elections on October 22, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has announced that it wants to tackle what was identified by the public as the most pressing issue in the country today: the rising cost of health insurance. Here’s what they are planning, whether their proposals will actually be enacted and what other major parties in Switzerland are hoping to do to reduce costs.
Time for a compromise on health insurance, SVP announces
Speaking to SRF, SVP parliamentary leader Thomas Aeschi said his party would like to step into the fray and provide a new solution to the rising cost of basic and supplemental health insurance in Switzerland. The government confirmed in September that the average cost of health insurance would rise by 8,7 percent when premiums are renewed for 2024.
Aeschi made the point that solutions to the health insurance crisis have been put forward, but none have gained enough support in parliament. Buoyed by the party’s recent success at the latest election, he argued that “together with the cantonal governments, we now need a citizen proposal on how we can bring healthcare costs under control. Things can’t go on like they have in recent years.”
SVP advocates incentives for not using Swiss healthcare unnecessarily
Specifically, the parliamentary leader said the solution lay in ensuring that people do not use Swiss healthcare services unnecessarily - a problem cited by Social Democratic President of Switzerland Alain Berset as one of the main reasons for the higher premiums. He argued that currently doctors, patients and local authorities have no reason or incentive to reduce the number of insurance claims, exacerbating healthcare costs and increasing premiums.
“You have to start with the incentives so that in the future everyone thinks about whether they need this medical service, [whether they can] provide it themselves or maybe do without,” Aeschi argued. While the party is yet to provide details as to what the incentives will be, some have suggested something similar to an annual “no claims” bonus, a system currently used for car insurance.
FDP is open to working with SVP on Swiss health insurance
For their part, FDP. The Liberals vice president Andri Silberschmidt told the national broadcaster that they had “already made the demands” for reducing insurance premiums. “If the SVP now supports this, we would of course very much welcome it,” he noted, adding that his party would be open to helping the SVP get their proposal over the line.
The FDP’s own plan would see the creation of a budget health insurance provider for those who need financial relief the most. Silberschmidt said that while he praised the SVP for finally getting involved in the debate, “[it’s not the case that] everything would be better with the SVP, we have to continue to pursue a reliable, liberal, civil policy - then things will also improve in the healthcare system.”
Centre and SP also open to negotiations with SVP
However, for the SVP’s proposal to pass it would also need the support of at least one more party. Speaking to SRF, the health spokesperson for the Centre Party, Lorenz Hess, said that they would work with anyone who has “good ideas”, but said the SVP will have to compromise, especially if their plan involves restricting patients' access to services.
The Centre Party's plan involves a referendum called the "Cost Brake Initiative". If approved, the plan would force the government to intervene and subsidise health insurance premiums if they rise faster than salaries. The party argues that this will force the government and healthcare providers to cut unnecessary costs, claimed by the party to be around 6 billion francs a year.
For their part, Social Democratic co-president Mattea Meyer told SRF that they would always support a solution to the insurance crisis, so long as it doesn’t come at the expense of patients. The party, along with others on the left side of the aisle, continue to call for the establishment of a publicly run health insurance provider - something that is already being planned at the cantonal level in Geneva.
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