A total of 140 doctors in Switzerland receive payments of between CHF1.5 million ($1.6 million) and CHF1.7 million a year through the mandatory health insurance system.
The figure was revealed by the director of Santé Suisse (the umbrella organisation of healthcare insurers) Verena Nold when interviewed on the Infrarouge programme on Swiss public television RTS on Wednesday.
According to Nold, this would translate to a salary around the million-franc mark, taking into account administration costs that could be as high as 40%.
This is a small minority though, considering Switzerland has around 40,000 registered doctors. Nold said the highest-paid specialists are radiologists, followed by gastroenterologists, ophthalmologists and urologists.
Doctors salaries are quite opaque in Switzerland and it is difficult to determine the average wages of physicians.
The annual salary tables released by canton Zurich’s Office for Economy and Labour lists the monthly salary of a chief hospital physician at CHF12,824. The government is keen to put the brakes on billing of specialist physicians and announced plans to reform the tariff system, which is worth CHF10 billion annually.
The reforms aim to save around CHF700 million a year and create more transparency for patients.
The hospital association has rejected the reform plans, while doctors and health insurers have voiced strong reservations, notably about the planned savings.
At the end of January, surgeons in Geneva went on a partial strike to protest against the lowering of tariffs (Tarmed) for outpatient fees, managed by the Federal Office of Public Health. The surgeons refused to perform certain surgeries like carpel tunnel hand operations. This kind of action was unprecedented in Switzerland.
According to RTS, the surgeons used to be paid CHF177 for this 20-minute operation but this was trimmed to CHF105 following reforms that came into effect in January.