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Rising health insurance costs kept under control

doctor examining child
1948, when health costs in Switzerland were cheaper. Keystone / Stulloe

Swiss health insurance premiums are to go up again in 2021, but at 0.5% the average nationwide hike is milder than the norm over the past decades.

The rise next year will bring the average monthly cost of basic health insurance coverage to CHF316.50 ($345.90), the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) announced on Tuesday.

The changes vary across Switzerland’s 26 regions. While some, including Zurich, will see premiums go down, others such as Ticino will be hit with considerable rises. An overview of the cantonal situation can be found hereExternal link (in German).

Interior Minister Alain Berset, who is also responsible for the health portfolio, said he was “very happy” to announce a below-average rise for the third year in a row.

Last year premiums rose by 0.2%, while the year before that it was 1.2%. Since 1996, when the system of mandatory health insurance coverage was introduced, the average yearly hike has been 3.7%, meaning healthcare has taken an increasingly larger slice of household budgets.

And due to technological developments and demographic trends, premiums are likely to continue rising in coming years, the health ministry says.

The government has tried to come up with various plans to stem the costs, including restricting direct access for patients to specialist doctors, and capping prices of generic drugs.

Health and its cost have consistently ranked among the top concerns of the Swiss. People’s initiatives have also been launched addressing the issue, including a leftwing proposal submitted in January demanding a cap on premiums at 10% of household income.

As for the impact of Covid-19 on healthcare costs, the health ministry said on Tuesday that this wasn’t yet clear.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR