Switzerland’s Healthcare Dilemma: Rising Insurance Premiums and the Quest for Efficiency
Health Insurance Premiums Set to Rise
Switzerland is grappling with a major increase in health insurance premiums, with an average rise of 8.7% expected in 2024. The announcement of this hike has stirred controversy, leading to criticism of Federal Councillor Alain Berset who announced the increase. Health insurance associations, Santésuisse and Curafutura, have expressed their dissatisfaction, accusing Berset and the Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI), which he heads, of failing to fully utilise potential savings in the health sector. They argue that additional savings could have been achieved, particularly in the area of medication, and propose that the list of healthcare services needs to be revised.
Discontent over Missed Savings Opportunities
Curafutura blames the postponed reforms for the current predicament faced by premium payers. The EDI is accused of not adequately utilising its capacity to decrease costs. Curafutura is specifically discontented with how the EDI is promoting margin revision. The association believes that if properly executed, this would ensure that pharmacists and doctors do not earn significantly more from the original drug than from the generic version, leading to an immediate cost reduction of 60 million francs. Additionally, they argue that increased distribution of generic drugs could have saved several hundred million francs more.
Potential Cost Reduction Strategies
Curafutura also suggests that the introduction of the Tardoc doctor’s tariff could help lower costs. The association believes that revisiting the list of services in compulsory basic insurance also has potential, as it covers 98% of all services. On the other hand, Santésuisse demands an immediate halt to the expansion of the list of services. According to them, significant cost increases in medication, care, psychotherapy, and physiotherapy in 2023 justify the 8.7% increase in 2024.
Reforms: The Need of the Hour
Santésuisse underlines the need for reforms, such as reducing laboratory tariffs and medication prices to match the level of other European countries, and promoting the use of generic drugs. They estimate these measures would save well over a billion francs. In the medium and long term, they call for significant improvements in supply planning by the cantons at hospitals and among doctors.
The Larger Picture
As the debate over health insurance premiums rages on, it is important to remember the larger picture. The healthcare system is a complex entity, influenced by a wide variety of factors including the cost of medication, the availability and use of generic drugs, and the scope and efficiency of healthcare services. While the proposed increase in premiums puts additional financial strain on the Swiss public, it also highlights the urgent need for reforms and more efficient practices in the health sector. But the road to reform is fraught with challenges, and it will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders to navigate this path successfully.
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