Compulsory Swiss health insurance premiums are set to rise by an average of 0.5% in 2021, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).
The average monthly premium will rise to CHF 316.50, 0.5% higher than in 2020. Premiums have risen an average of 3.7% p.a. since obligatory insurance was introduced in Switzerland in 1996.
The average premium for adults will rise to CHF 375.40 (+0.4%), to CHF 265.60 (+0.4%) for young adults, while falling to CHF 99.70 (-0.1%) for children.
Basic health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland and governed by federal law called LAMal. Insurers must offer basic insurance to all-comers regardless of their health. Anyone failing to insure will have the choice of insurer made for them and receive a bill.
Swiss healthcare is expensive. In 2018, globally, Switzerland was in second place (12.2% of GDP) behind the United States (16.9% of GDP) on share of national income spent on health. The OECD average was 8.8%.
In a 2017 comparison the OECD identified Swiss healthcare as the worst value for money. Prices for the same set of goods and services were 39% higher in Switzerland than in the US and nearly double (+93%) the OECD average – see page 34.
Average Swiss premium changes in 2021 will range from -1.6% to +2.1% depending on the canton of residence.
Average premiums with fall or remain unchanged in nine cantons (AG, AI, AR, BS, NE, OW, SH, SZ, ZH) and rise by between 0% and 1% in ten cantons (BE, FR, GE, GL, GR, SG, SO, UR, VD, ZG). In the remaining seven cantons (BL, JU, LU, NW, TG, TI, VS), average premiums are set to rise by more than 1% in 2021.
So far this year health insurers have paid out less in claims than during a normal year. Readying hospitals for Covid-19 patients earlier this year put many non-emergency medical treatments on hold leading to a fall in health insurance claims. Some hoped this would flow through to lower premiums in 2021.
FOPH said that it it too soon to know the true impact of Covid-19 on healthcare costs in 2020. At the same time it pointed to health insurance company reserves, which are likely to exceed CHF 11 billion in 2020.
There is political pressure for insurers to reduce reserves and premiums. Switzerland’s Federal Council considers most insurers reserves to be excessive.
In the face of rising healthcare costs, driven by an ageing population and a growing list of treatments, the Federal Council is aiming to introduce reforms to keep spending within the bounds of what is medically justifiable.
To calculate next year’s premium click here. This is the FOPH’s official calculator, which is independent and free of advertising.