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Costlier healthcare is no new phenomenon

Swiss patients are paying and getting more for their health insurance Keystone Archive

Health spending in Switzerland has continued to rise over the past 40 years, driven by demand for better care, according to a new report.

This content was published on July 22, 2003 - 12:34

Figures released by the Federal Statistics Office show the cost of health insurance and services rose at twice the cost of living over the period 1960-2000.

The report does not consider the development to be an “explosive” increase. Instead it links more expensive medical treatments and hospital stays to increased demand for higher standards of healthcare.

It provides a number of reasons as to why health costs have risen steadily from four per cent of Gross Domestic Product in 1960 to 10.7 per cent - or SFr43.4 billion ($31.8 billion) annually - of GDP in 2000.

The Federal Statistics Office claims that the increase cannot be blamed on the reform of health care legislation in 1994, nor is it the result of changing economic cycles.

The report says patients, service providers, health insurers and government departments are all responsible for higher expectations of healthcare.

Costly treatment

Among the reasons given are that treatment has become more specialised and uses costly technology; the number of private doctors has increased; and the wide availability of new, more expensive drugs in Switzerland.

These days the Swiss simply expect better health care, while the disappearance of social networks has made the elderly reliant on residential care homes rather than families.

Significantly, government spending has continually decreased since 1971, sinking from 39.5 per cent to just 25.3 per cent three decades later.

Meanwhile, private contributions to health insurance schemes have jumped from 55.4 per cent in 1971, to 68.2 per cent by 2000.

The level of company spending on employees’ health and social insurance remained stable – an increase of 1.5 per cent since 1960.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The average yearly cost of health care was SFr1.9 billion in 1960, which had soared to SFr43.4 billion by 2000.
The annual increase of 7.3% in health care costs was double that of the rise in the cost of living, which was 3.4% for the same period (1960–2000).
From 1990 to 2000, the increase was less stark: health care costs rose by 4.2%, while the cost of living increased by only 1.9%.

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