A survey by price comparison site comparis.ch found 40% would struggle if Swiss health insurance premiums rose significantly in 2018.
The survey questioned 700 people across all of Switzerland.
20% of families said they couldn’t cope with a rise of CHF 10 a month and 13% said they couldn’t cope with a CHF 20 monthly rise. 17% of single people said an extra CHF 20 a month would break their budgets.
When asked why they thought premiums continued to rise, those surveyed singled out the pharmaceutical industry and people who unnecessarily run to the hospital or doctor. 65% blame rises on medicine makers and 63% on inconsiderate people using health services unnecessarily, while 55% blame doctors and hospitals for rising costs. In addition, one in five agree medical progress is partly responsible.
When questioned on what remedies should be taken, most called for greater use of unbranded generic drugs. 90% said they would be happy to be treated exclusively with generic drugs if it came with premium reductions. Three quarters would expect a premium reduction of 10% to 30% in return for switching to generics.
Felix Schneuwly, a health insurance expert at comparis.ch, reckons the survey shows people are ready to pay more out of their own pockets if it means they can pay less in premiums. According to Schneuwly, the Federal Council and parliament are trying to do the opposite. Alain Berset wants to reduce premium discounts for those opting for the highest deductibles. This week a commission for the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house, said it was opposed Berset’s plan.
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Those surveyed were pessimistic about future health charges. More than half expect an average premium rise of 5% in 2018, while a third think rises will be closer to 6%. In 2017, the average monthly adult premium was CHF 447 a month, 5% higher than in 2016.
Something absent from the survey were the potential health savings from healthier lifestyles. A survey in May 2017, revealed that 47% of Switzerland’s population would be happy to be electronically monitored in return for a discount.
Another approach could be to channel taxes on the foods driving up rates of non-communicable diseases into healthcare to reduce premiums, as some countries do with tobacco taxes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reckons non-communicable diseases now account for 63% of deaths globally. These diseases include obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. According to WHO the main problem foods are free sugar – found in soda, fruit juice, cakes and other processed foods – sodium, and saturated fats – contained mainly in meat, dairy and eggs.