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Swiss favour wide choice of healthcare

The Swiss health system cost SFr51.7 billion in 2004

(Keystone)

Most Swiss want access to a broad range of healthcare services even though fewer choices might result in reducing spiralling health costs, according to a poll.

The survey, commissioned by the pharmaceutical industry, also found that a majority of Swiss are in favour of offering financial incentives to those who look after their health.

The annual health barometer into Swiss health trends, published on Tuesday, was based on interviews with 1,203 people across the country.

According to the results of the 2006 gfs Bern research institute poll, there is a clear trend towards ensuring the widest possible choice.

About 65 per cent of those interviewed said they were against reducing healthcare options – hospital, doctor or medicines – compared with 54 per cent in 2005.

And all respondents agreed that there should be no restrictions on access to drugs to fight cancer.

Divided

Just over three-quarters are also in favour of a financial incentive system for those people paying health premiums who try to stay healthy.

But respondents were split over a proposal by centre-left political parties for a single health insurance company.

While a majority agree that a single health insurer would simplify the system, reduce costs for both companies and customers, and improve transparency, most of those interviewed say that it would reduce the competition that encourages companies to improve their services.

The pharmaceutical industry remains highly regarded: 93 per cent of respondents consider it to be very important or relatively important for Switzerland, compared with 86 per cent in 2005, and second in importance behind the banking industry.

Health insurance

The Federal Law on Sickness Insurance, which came into force in 1996, obliges every Swiss resident to take out basic health care insurance ...

Premiums

The poll comes a week after the interior ministry announced that health insurance premiums in Switzerland would increase by an average of 2.2 per cent next year – the lowest rise in ten years.

The Federal Health Office said that the small rise is linked to the fall in medicine prices, the use of generic drugs and the reduction of costs.

Health Minister Pascal Couchepin said he wanted to limit annual increases to three per cent over the next five to ten years.

To achieve this he proposes to create centres of expertise that specialise in serious illnesses and other conditions, such as those found in canton Fribourg.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In 2007 health premiums will increase by 2.2%.
This rise is the smallest ever since the introduction of the 1996 health insurance law.
Health premiums increased by an annual average of 5.57% between 1996 and 2007.
In 2007 a young person aged 19-25 will have to pay an average of SFr246 per month, a child will pay SFr75 per month and an adult will pay SFr313 per month.

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