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Health costs Cabinet wants restrictions on foreign doctors

The government proposals are aimed at controlling the number of doctors without medical training in Switzerland, but they fall short of lifting the contractual obligation for health insurers


The government has presented a plan to introduce additional quality controls and language tests to keep in check the number of medical doctors, in order to curb steadily increasing health costs.

The proposed reform includes a test about the country’s health system for practitioners trained abroad.

The 26 cantons, which are mainly responsible for health matters, would also be given the right to limit the number of specialists in coordination with other stakeholders in the health sector.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Interior Minister Alain Berset said the measures were part of ongoing efforts to replace a temporary cap on doctors which runs out in 2019.

“Switzerland is one of the few industrialised countries which has no permanent regulation,” he explained.

Berset said the new proposals, which go to cantons, political parties and organisations for review, were aimed at finding a fair solution for doctors, sharing out responsibility among the national and cantonal authorities as well as health insurers and to grant citizens easy access to the Swiss health system.

“Discussions about the proposals won’t be easy,” Berset admitted. Parliament has been struggling to find a solution for more than a decade, failing to agree on a plan that would have removed a legal obligation for health insurers to work with any qualified doctor.

Notably health insurers have been campaigning to lift the contractual obligation and partly liberalise the health market.

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