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Health insurance Swiss spend the most on health care  

corridor of health clinic with wheelchair and patient being helped to walk

Many Swiss pay supplementary health insurance to cover things like hospital care and dental costs.

(© KEYSTONE / CHRISTIAN BEUTLER)

The Swiss spend more from their own pockets for health care than any other nation, according to a survey for the price comparison website Comparis. Providers of supplementary health insurance are the biggest beneficiaries. 

The Comparisexternal link survey found that out of CHF80 billion (USD 82 billion) health expenditure in 2016, the Swiss paid CHF24 billion themselves.  

Since 2012, expenditure covered directly by households has continued to rise, it says. This includes CHF5.5 billion for retirement home care, CHF2.8 billion in dentists’ bills and 1.6 billion for medicines. 

Whereas insurance companies’ revenue from supplementary healthcare premiums has continued to rise, pay-outs under supplementary schemes have risen only moderately. Between 2008 and 2016, revenue from premiums rose by CHF865 million to CHF6.6 billion, whereas health cost reimbursements to clients rose only CHF353 million to CHF4.7 billion, the survey found. The sector therefore made a healthy profit. 

Basic health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland. Private companies must all offer the same basic coverage and are not allowed to make a profit on it. Their profits come from the supplementary schemes. 

+Read more about health insurance in Switzerland

Economist Pius Gyger, the author of the Comparis report, says the needs of the population go well beyond basic health care coverage, and a high number of Swiss are prepared to pay for supplementary schemes. 

But Comparis health insurance expert Felix Schneuwly says insurers need to be innovative, otherwise they may start to lose this lucrative market.

SDA-ATS/RTS/jc

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