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Elderly should not pay more for health cover

The Swiss want high quality health care

(Keystone)

Most Swiss think health premiums should not be linked to age, according to a survey commissioned by the pharmaceutical industry.

The poll also found that a majority of Swiss are in favour of a single health insurer for the whole country in order to reduce spiralling costs.

The annual health barometer, published on Thursday, was based on interviews with more than 1,200 people.

Almost three-quarters of those interviewed said they were against making the elderly pay higher health premiums. According to the GfS Bern research institute, which carried out the poll, only 26 per cent came out in favour.

The findings come a day after the Avenir Suisse think tank published proposals calling for the introduction of higher health premiums for the elderly.

The organisation warned that Switzerland's current health system was heading for a breakdown because of the growing number of elderly patients.

Reform

The survey also found increasing support for a proposal by centre-left political parties that there be a single health insurance company for the country. Fifty-six per cent of respondents approved the idea – up four per cent on last year.

In December leftwing groups and the Social Democratic Party handed in the required number of signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue. They want to scrap the current system of around 100 health insurers and introduce income-related premiums.

More than 70 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of offering financial incentives to those who don't smoke and who take exercise.

The interior ministry announced earlier this week that health insurance premiums in Switzerland would increase by an average of 5.6 per cent next year.

Premiums have gone up by between four and ten per cent over the past few years, causing financial problems notably among families.

Attempts by parliament to amend the 1996 health insurance law have so far failed. The Senate is due to consider a proposal to reorganise hospital funding in the near future.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

84% are opposed to restricting the right to choose a doctor.
72% are in favour of a system rewarding healthy lifestyles.
68% are opposed to higher premiums for elderly people.
56% are in favour of single health insurance company.
53% are willing to pay for medication for minor ailments themselves.

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