Parliament ponders health costs

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin has rejected a proposed freeze on health insurance premiums to halt an expected massive increase in contributions.

This content was published on June 10, 2009 minutes

He said such a move mooted by the centre-left Green Party and the rightwing People's Party would ruin the insurance companies.

Couchepin called on parliament to approve a number of proposals, including a fee for doctor's consultations and pledged to announce price cuts for certain medications by the end of the month.

"The current financial difficulties of the health insurance system are minor compared with its achievements. It is a good system," he told parliament on Wednesday.

He added that the extended debate in the House of Representatives proved that there was a political willingness to reform.

The main political parties agreed on the need to take measures aimed at reducing health costs but the remedies proposed differed considerably.

They include a radical overhaul of the insurance sector and the hospital funding systems, a bigger role for the federal authorities at the expense of the cantons, cuts in drug prices, a freeze on insurance premiums or better cost-awareness by patients.

The Federal Health Office expects an average increase of 15 per cent in premiums for the compulsory health insurance this year.

Urs Geiser,

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