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Key lessons from the health insurance referendum - P4H Network

Key lessons from the health insurance referendum

The Swiss population is burdened by a healthcare system that is, in some respects, luxurious by international standards. But the people have once again rejected two initiatives that proposed solutions. Why? And what next? Analysis.

An analysis of Sunday’s votes on health insurance in Switzerland reveals six lessons, according to experts:

  1. The 13th AHV pension acted like a boomerang: After the “yes” to the 13th AHV pension in March, an almost euphoric Socialist Party embarked on the campaign to limit health insurance premiums to 10% of income.
  2. The Swiss abroad have helped to fill a gap by making a greater commitment to people on low incomes than their fellow citizens at home. This is because the potential beneficiaries who would have benefited most from lower premiums – low-income families – are not the most frequent voters.
  3. The Swiss people have confirmed their attachment to a healthcare system that is an exception in Europe. With its financing based largely on households and premiums divided equally between individuals, the current model, introduced in 1996, may seem antisocial, at least from the outside. “
  4. The Socialists’ initiative seemed straightforward, given that 10% of income is a figure that anyone can visualize. Who may or may not have benefited from the premium cap, depending on the canton? Which insurance model did we want to cap premiums for? The impression that remains is that Switzerland allows itself a luxury option in basic health insurance.
  5. The initiative “Pour des primes plus basses. Curbing costs in the healthcare system” launched by Le Centre suffered from a similar complexity problem.
  6. Switzerland is one of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries that spends the most on healthcare, between 11 and 12% of GDP. Citizens’ wallets may be less stretchable, but they are still responsible for some 60% of healthcare costs. Pressure on low-income households remains high.

Sunday’s clear rejection did not put an end to the discussion, but rather rekindled it. For the fundamental problem remains: the reforms envisaged are struggling to secure political majorities. This is due in part to the large number of players in a healthcare market worth over 90 billion Swiss francs, which exerts a powerful influence on Parliament.


Six lessons from this Sunday's health insurance vote, Swissinfo-branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation
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