Some Swiss politicians would like to focus minds on the costs of going to the doctor to reduce the number going for the most minor of reasons.
Their plan would require deductibles to rise annually in line with increases in the cost of basic health insurance. Higher deductibles, they think, would put people off going to the doctor unecessarily, reducing pressure on the health system.
On Thursday, parliament voted in favour of such an idea by 129 votes to 54.
Other politicians and the Federal Council are opposed to the idea because deductible increases would be out of line with income growth. Barbara Gysi of the Socialist Party said that some would avoid going to the doctor because they don’t have enough money.
Health minister Alain Berset pointed out that the lowest deductible of CHF 300, was double what it was in 1996. Over the same period salaries had only risen 24%.
Berset’s original plan was to simplify health insurance by taking aim at the excessive number of different prices while reducing the number of deductible options, in particular unpopular ones such as the CHF 1,000 and CHF 2,000 options offered to adults, and the CHF 400 and CHF 600 ones offered to children.
The health minister also wanted to reduce premium discounts for those choosing high deductibles. Faced with an outcry over this suggestion, he said he would put it on hold and wait for the results of a study designed to show the impact of deductibles on the consumption of health services before deciding which direction to take.
Parliament ignored his call for more time and voted 133 to 55 in favour of a second motion demanding more freedom for insurers to set deductibles and more choice for the insured. This motion will now be presented to the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house.