Swiss face another hike in health premiums

More pain for Swiss policyholders Keystone

Health insurance premiums in Switzerland are to rise by an average of 4.3 per cent next year.

This content was published on October 10, 2003 - 16:12

The government says the increase will range between 0.8 per cent and 14.8 per cent, depending on age and where the policyholder lives.

Health insurance costs in Switzerland have risen dramatically over the past two years, averaging around ten per cent.

Young policyholders - 19 to 25-year olds - face hefty increases of up to 15 per cent.

But Nicole Bulliard of Santésuisse, the health insurers’ association, denied young people were being singled out unfairly.

“Our system is based on solidarity between the young and the old, between the sick and the healthy. We cannot really go against that principle,” Buillard told swissinfo.

Drugs bill

The Swiss Consumers Association blamed the high cost of drugs in Switzerland for the steady rise in health insurance premiums.

“We must find a solution to this problem. Drugs are far too expensive in this country because it is still not possible to import them from wherever we want,” spokeswoman Jaqueline Bachmann told swissinfo.

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin described this year’s hike as moderate compared with last year’s average increase of 9.6 per cent.

Cantons, political parties and consumer organisations accused Couchepin of a lack of transparency and dressing up the figures.

They also criticised him for failing to take political responsibility for the increase – an allegation rejected by Couchepin.

Comparis, an internet platform that compares Switzerland’s health insurers, attacked the ministry’s figure of 4.3 per cent for the national average.

“This figure only affects 45 per cent of premiums with a minimum excess,” said Richard Eisler of Comparis. “The average increase is more like 7.4 per cent.”

Price differential

The Swiss Consumers Association said any talk of a national average was futile, as premiums differed from canton to canton.

“People have to wait until they get the new papers and then they will see exactly how much they have to pay next year,” Bachmann told swissinfo.

“If the politicians or whoever talk about averages, it does not help you because personal situations differ significantly.”

Policyholders now have until the end of November to decide whether they want to stick with their current health insurance or switch to another company.

Health care costs in Switzerland are among the most expensive in the world.

According to 1998 figures from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, health costs in Switzerland account for 10.4 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

That puts Switzerland in second place behind the United States with 12.9 per cent of GDP.

swissinfo, Billi Bierling

In brief

Health insurance premiums have gone up for the third year running.

Premiums are set to rise by an average of 4.3 per cent, compared with an average of 9.6 per cent last year.

Premiums in Switzerland differ from canton to canton, with Ticino facing the biggest hike of 7.2 per cent.

Adults will now pay an average of SFr328 per month, compared with SFr268 last year.

With an increase of between 4.5 per cent and 14.8 per cent, 19 to 25 year olds are worst affected by the hike.

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