Parliament wants patients to pay more for health costs

Efforts to stop the continuing increase in health costs, including the health insurance premiums, have been permanent political feature in Switzerland. © Keystone/Gaetan Bally

The Senate has approved a controversial proposal to raise the minimum amount to be paid by patients for health services before the health insurance takes over coverage.

This content was published on March 5, 2019 - 15:03 with SDA-ATS/urs

Following an earlier decision by the other parliamentary chamber, the House of Representatives, the Senate on Tuesday agreed to increase the deductible to CHF350 ($350) annually under certain conditions.

Supporters said the CHF50 hike would help reduce health costs and encourage patients to make less frequent use of medical products and services.

Opponents, notably from the political left, warned that the increase would cause hardship for the less well-off who could no longer afford to get treatment. In the same vein, Interior Minister Alain Berset, whose portfolio includes health matters, said previous increases had failed to bring down health costs.

Switzerland has one of the most expensive health systems and rising costs have long been a major concern for consumers.

Basic health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland.

The leftwing Social Democratic Party and a consumer group have announced they will challenge the planned legal reform, which still needs confirmation, to a nationwide vote by forcing a referendum.

Two major political parties, the Social Democrats as well as the Christian Democrats, are currently collecting signatures for separate constitutional amendments to cap mandatory health insurance premiums.

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