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Health minister concerned by 3.8 percent insurance hike

Health Minister Ruth Dreifuss expressed concern Friday about continuing pressure of health care costs on average Swiss families, saying next year’s increase meant that many families would not be able to afford any further premium increases.

This content was published on October 8, 1999 - 14:18

Health Minister Ruth Dreifuss expressed concern Friday about continuing pressure of health care costs on average Swiss families, saying next year’s increase meant that many families would not be able to afford any further premium increases.

Dreifuss said she would now push for a new system under which premium payments would be linked to people’s income and wealth.

Dreifuss, whose reform proposal is expected to come under attack in parliament, spoke after it was announced that premium costs would go up by an average 3.8 percent next year.

The figure was announced earlier in the day by the federal Social Security Office, which must approve insurance company proposals for policy increases. The office has the right to cap premiums if it considers them as unjustified.

The increase applies to basic insurance, which is compulsory for every family and individual living in Switzerland. The figure does not apply to supplementary insurance, which includes all sorts of services, ranging from dental care to alternative medicine.

Private health care costs have increased significantly in recent years and the costs now pose a major financial burden for many Swiss families.

Insurance companies say they face a continuing rise in health costs, particularly in certain sectors of hospital care.
Premiums for basic health insurance – which will go up in all 26 Swiss cantons -- are highest in canton Geneva with SFr320 ($215) per month, and lowest in canton Appenzell Innerrhoden with SFr133 ($89). This is, at least in part, due to significant differences in living costs.

From staff and wire reports.

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