Left demands affordable health care

Leftwing groups handing in signatures on Thursday RTS

Swiss voters are likely to have the final say on a proposal to set up a single, non-profit health insurer and introduce income-related premiums.

This content was published on December 9, 2004 - 14:41

It is the latest in a series of attempts to cut spiralling health-care costs in Switzerland.

Supporters handed in more than 113,000 signatures to the federal authorities on Thursday in a bid to force a nationwide vote.

The proposal outlines a standard scheme for mandatory basic health insurance and the introduction of income- and wealth-related premiums.

The system would be run by a management team made up of health-care professionals, the government and policyholders.

There are more than 90 private health-insurance companies in Switzerland.

The groups behind the initiative include the Communist Labour Party, the Green Party, trade unions and consumer groups.

“The current health premiums have become an unbearable burden for families on middle incomes,” said Jean Blanchard, one of the driving forces behind the intitiative.

Most of the signatures collected since May 2003 came from citizens in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Financial burden

Social Democrat parliamentarian Jean-Claude Rennwald said the proposals would not solve all the problems.

But he claimed they were the only alternatives to a two-tier health system: one for the rich and another for the poor.

The federal authorities will now have to validate the signatures before parliament discusses the proposals.

However, voters will have the final say on the issue at a later stage.

The initiative is the latest in a long line of attempts aimed at stemming spiralling health-care costs.

Other groups have suggested reducing the number of certified doctors, cutting the range of services covered by health insurers or encouraging alternative-healing methods.

In May 2003 voters overwhelmingly threw out a plan to link health-insurance premiums to incomes and savings.

Switzerland’s health-care system relies on individual contributions and taxes. It is the only country in Europe where premiums are not income-related.

Health-care costs and the quality of health care in Switzerland are among the highest in the world.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

There are around 90 health insurers in Switzerland.
Insurance coverage is mandatory for every Swiss resident.
It takes at least 100,000 signatures to force a nationwide vote on a people’s initiative.

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In compliance with the JTI standards

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