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Health costs Cantons to set quotas on admission of new doctors

doctor examining a patient

It is the government that currently sets ceilings on new doctor admissions by area of specialization.


Switzerland’s Federal Council is proposing to replace current tight controls on admission of new doctors with a system in which cantons would set the ceilings. 

A bill to this effect was submitted to parliament on Wednesday, and so it will now be up to parliament to decide on this thorny issue linked to rising health costs. 

Tight limits were in place from 2001 to 2011 on new doctors recognized by general health insurance. They were then lifted, but re-imposed in 2013 because of a flood of new doctors and spiralling health costs. The current controls run until June 30, 2019. 

At present, the Federal Council sets maximum numbers of new doctors for admission according to specialization. If the bill is passed, it is the cantons that will be able to set ceilings according to specialist areas of medicine and according to how much doctors work. 

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This move has been welcomed by the cantons, but doctors and health insurers are sceptical. 

The federation of doctors’ organisationsexternal link said that admissions of new doctors should rather be based on national criteria on quality, such as training, experience and appropriate language skills for the canton. The main health insurers’ association Santésuisse said the proposed reform would be ineffective against the “excessive and inefficient” range of health services on offer and would have “no impact in terms of cost control”.


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