There are many reasons why Swiss healthcare costs continue to climb. One, often cited, is changing demographics, jargon for more older people. But how much of an impact is this having?
A set of figures for 2014, estimate that the share of health spending on the 28.5% of the population over 60, was 60.7% of the total, an oversized slice.
On average, the health system spent nearly 4 times as much on someone over 60 than on an average person under that age, in 2014.
So what impact has an aging population had on healthcare costs?
In the four years from 2010 to 2014, per capita Swiss health care costs rose 10.2% from an average of CHF 689 a month to CHF 759 a month, or CHF 9,112 per annum.
All other things kept equal, the demographic shift in age over this period explains only 1.5%1 of this 10.2% cost increase. The share of those over 60 rose a modest 0.8% from 27.7% to 28.5% – the average age within this group also increased, however this was included in the calculation, which used 5-year age bands.
In addition, across all age groups together, the per capita number of discharges from hospitals and clinics barely budged.
This leaves plenty unexplained, however it is clear that the cost impact of a greying population over the 4 years to 2014 was relatively modest when set against the overall rise in costs.
Swiss health cost estimates by age (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
Number of hospital visits by age (in French)
1 This calculation takes the population in each 5-year age band in 2014, and applies the average 2010 per capita cost per age band to these figures to isolate the effect of demographic shift from changes in cost.