A proposal by the government and parliament to boost Managed Care health systems appears to find little support among the Swiss, a month ahead of a nationwide vote on the issue.
A poll commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation found only one in three respondents approving the amendments. They were passed by parliament but challenged to a nationwide vote by the country’s main doctor’s organisation, trade unions and large parts of the centre-left.
Political scientist Claude Longchamp of the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute also points to the high number of undecided voters seven weeks ahead of polling day.
“The issue is too complex to draw the crowds,” Longchamp says.
He suggests that many people do not understand the concept of Managed Care and the necessity to promote it. Political parties being split down the middle, or changing sides, are dealing the proposal potentially fatal blows.
Apart from the centre-left Social Democrats, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party is also recommending rejection of the Managed Care plan, seriously jeopardising a hard-fought political compromise. This leaves just two of the main parties standing by the parliamentary decision.
Compromise at risk
“The crumbling of a parliamentary alliance is a worst-case scenario for such a proposal,” Longchamp adds.
Irritated by the confusion and lack of clarity – even the different doctor pressure groups are divided - voters lean towards rejecting a proposal as evidenced in previous cases.
“Personal experience as patients may ultimately play a decisive part for opinion-shaping,” he concludes.
Longchamp also notes that seven previous attempts to reform the country’s health system have been thrown out at the ballot box.
The reform aims to integrate health services and streamline collaboration and coordination over treatment options, with the joint objectives of reducing costs and increasing quality of care.
An insured person joining a Managed Care network and waiving free access to a doctor of choice will benefit from lower contributions to medical bills. Those who don’t, have to pay extra.
Opponents of the bill say it will create a two-tier medical system detrimental to the chronically ill and the less affluent people.
Switzerland is known for its high quality but costly universal health care system compared with other industrialised countries.
The poll also predicts an initiative to grant voters more say on foreign policy matters, curtailing the powers of parliament and the cabinet, will be defeated. (Detailed figures see chart)
The proposal by a conservative isolationist group for the moment appears to appeal to 44 per cent of respondents.
But various factors let political scientists assume that opponents, including most political parties and the business community, will have the upper hand on the day.
The issue appears have little potential for exciting emotion among voters. The early launch of the public campaign by opponents makes it difficult for the promoters of the initiative, says political scientist Martina Imfeld.
Similarly, a proposal to boost home ownership with tax breaks stands limited chance of winning support among citizens, according to pollsters.
Although initial support for the initiative is 47 per cent, the figure is likely to shrink, barring unforeseen events in the run-up to June 17.
The pollsters interviewed 1,205 Swiss citizens from across the country for the first of two planned representative surveys ahead of June 17.
Swiss expatriates could not be included in the poll.
The interviews took place seven weeks ahead of voting day.
The margin of error is 2.9%.
The survey was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo.ch’s parent company, and carried out by the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute.end of infobox