Health insurance premiums to take biggest jump in a decade

Swiss healthcare: top quality, but a drain on the monthly budget. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The cost of compulsory health insurance in Switzerland is to increase by an average of 6.6% in 2023 – the biggest annual rise since 2010.

This content was published on September 27, 2022

Health authorities said on Tuesday that the “considerable” increase would raise average monthly premiums from CHF315 to CHF335 ($319 to $339). For an adult, the average bill each month will climb to CHF397. Across the 26 cantons, the increase varies between 3.9% and 9.5%.

Interior Minister Alain Berset told journalists in Bern that it was a “difficult” and “unpleasant” development, especially after a period of “relative stability”. While the long-term trend is markedly upwards, Berset recalled that premiums increased by an average of 1.5% annually over the past four years; last year, they even fell, for the first time in 14 years.

Berset said the main cause of the leap was the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought about an increase in healthcare costs that is only now starting to be passed onto consumers. Another factor is the “catch-up” effect of the many non-essential operations which had been postponed during the pandemic, Berset said.

Difficult to control

The Swiss healthcare system involves an obligation for every resident to be covered by basic health insurance, which they can choose to buy from various different providers. Beyond the basic coverage, there are options for supplementary insurance to cover specific treatment types, as well as the option to pay a higher or a lower premium depending on the level of coverage.

Controlling costs in the country’s healthcare sector is a major political issue, especially since they are destined to keep rising due to an ageing population and technological progress in medicine. The government has proposed various ideas over the past few years, including limiting the access of patients to specialist doctors, and capping the costs of generic drugs.

A people’s initiative submitted in 2020 meanwhile proposed limiting premiums at 10% of a household’s income.

Healthcare, or more specifically the cost of healthcare, is a regular fixture at the top of the list of most pressing concerns for the Swiss.

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