The National Council, Switzerland’s parliament, supported a motion that would end the transfer of debt from unpaid health insurance premiums to young adults, according to 20 Minutes.
Under the current system, when young adults reach the age of 18 they must pay any health insurance premiums that were not paid on their behalf by their parents when they were children.
Recently, 174 members of parliament voted to stop this practice. Only 2 voted not to.
Some young Swiss residents get saddled with debts of thousands when they turn 18 because of unpaid childhood health insurance premiums. In addition to needing to pay off these debts, some struggle to find a landlord prepared to rent to them because their name is on the official debt-collection register.
Rather than transferring the debt to 18 year olds, the change would extend parents’ liability for any unpaid premiums.
The next step is a vote by the members of the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house.
In 2017, the government chose not to act on the issue partly because of the rising cost of unpaid premiums, which reached a total of CHF 347 million in 2017.
Switzerland has a problem with unpaid debts. The debt collection agency Intrum found that 54% had failed to pay all of their bills on time over the last 12 months.
Another survey by Comparis found that one in four residents have debt collectors after them. Among those under 36, nearly half have an unpaid debt. Unpaid taxes (35%) and unpaid health insurance premiums (32%) are the most common unpaid debts.
Figures from the Federal Statistical Office show a doubling of the number debt collection actions over the 20 years to 2017 – 2.9 million legal demands were made unpaid bills in Switzerland in 2017.
The problem is worse in French-speaking Switzerland. In 2017, those living in the Lake Geneva region, an area containing the cantons of Vaud and Geneva, were 70% more likely than an average person in the rest of Switzerland to be pursued for an unpaid bill. These cantons have some of the highest taxes and health insurance premiums in all of Switzerland. Perhaps there is a connection.