More cost cutting to reduce health spending

The interior ministry has announced a series of cost-cutting measures for medicines in an effort to reduce health spending.

This content was published on July 1, 2009 - 17:24

They include a new price structure for generics as well as lowering rebates for excess payments of insurance takers, and are due to come into force gradually by the beginning of next year.

The measures aim to cut spending by about SFr400 million ($370.3 million) and to help health insurance companies to calculate premiums for 2010, according to Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin.

"I'm not afraid to take steps which will hurt the pharmaceutical industry, but I firmly reject allegations that deeper cuts are possible," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

The sector's umbrella association as well as doctors described the measures as painful, but consumer groups said the cuts were insufficient.

A previous cost-reduction programme launched four years ago led to savings of at least SFr250 million.

Rising health costs have become a public concern in Switzerland with premiums for compulsory health insurance expected to increase by an average 15 per cent this year.

In May the cabinet came out in favour of controversial proposals to charge patients a fee for consulting a doctor, and to allocate SFr200 million in state subsidies to contain any further increase in health costs.

Parliament is to discuss the issue later this year, but most political parties and health associations have rejected the proposals.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch

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