Swiss healthcare system: cost-reduction measures would have a majority in French-speaking Switzerland, but not in German-speaking Switzerland

Swiss healthcare system: cost-reduction measures would have a majority in French-speaking Switzerland, but not in German-speaking Switzerland

Swiss healthcare system: cost-reduction measures would have a majority in French-speaking Switzerland, but not in German-speaking Switzerland

Once a year, the Health Monitor checks what Swiss voters think about the healthcare system. The responses show a deepening Rösti trench.

The pharmacy of the intensive care department of the HFR cantonal hospital in Freiburg.

The pharmacy of the intensive care department of the HFR cantonal hospital in Freiburg.

Alessandro Della Valle / Keystone

Two initiatives that would have changed the Swiss healthcare system and reduced its costs, the people rejected Sunday. A frustration with the reforms that confirms what the 2024 Health Monitor now shows as an image of the population’s mood: measures to reduce costs do not have a majority in German-speaking Switzerland, but they do in speaking Switzerland. French.

Since 1996, the opinion research institute GfS Bern has been surveying 1,200 people on behalf of the pharmaceutical association Interpharma to check the attitude of Swiss voters towards the healthcare system. Overall, the representative survey shows that respondents are extremely satisfied with the healthcare system. Almost three quarters responded to the question: “How do you rate the quality of the Swiss healthcare system in general?” with “good” or “very good” – according to René Buholzer, CEO and delegate on the board of directors of Interpharma, “a high value since the beginning of the survey.”

German-speaking Swiss reject reduction in basic insurance benefits

However, the responses also show that the gap between German-speaking Switzerland and French-speaking Switzerland in the evaluation of the healthcare system is increasingly deepening. The perceived cost pressure of the problem is visibly greater in French-speaking Switzerland than in German-speaking Switzerland.

The inhabitants of French-speaking Switzerland are also more open to reforms than those of German-speaking Switzerland. For example, restrictions on the choice of doctor and reductions in the range of basic insurance services in French-speaking Switzerland can already be addressed today (more than 70 percent approval in each case). Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) are also open to a reduction in the range of services or restricted access to new medicines (also 66 percent).

In German Switzerland it is different: 75 percent of respondents reject a reduction in basic insurance benefits. The greatest willingness to take cost-reducing measures is shown by a minority of 37 percent when it comes to free choice of hospital.

Due to the rejection of the premium relief and cost restraint initiative, policyholders will now no longer have to pay a maximum of ten percent of their income for health insurance premiums. The amount of the bonus is also not linked to salary trends or economic growth. The Health Monitor 2024 also shows that the population is skeptical about the evolution of health system costs. 85 percent of respondents assume costs will continue to increase, 14 percent believe they will stabilize, and only 1 percent expect costs to decrease soon. And: Paying health insurance premiums, medical bills, and drug and dental expenses is a permanent or at least occasional problem for about a quarter of the population.

Desirable: basic insurance that covers all services.

When it comes to redistributing the finances of the health system, the population sees the greatest potential for savings in the administration of health insurance companies and in specialist doctors. Respondents also hold health insurance companies responsible for cost containment: 35 percent give health insurance companies first or second primary responsibility.

Furthermore, the population holds the state and federal government responsible, not the market or the cantons. They tend to want a state-regulated healthcare system, in which the federal government makes the decisions. Respondents place community responsibility above individual responsibility. In addition, voters want basic insurance that covers all services and not just predominantly high risks.

The ideal health system design is evaluated differently across linguistic regions. In German and Italian Switzerland, respondents largely share their ideals. The French-speaking Swiss, on the other hand, would prefer a healthcare system designed by the cantons, relatively more market-oriented and covering mainly high risks. In addition, restrictions when choosing a doctor are considered much less critical. Cost consciousness is more pronounced than in the rest of Switzerland.

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