One in five Swiss avoids visiting doctor due to costs

A doctor looks at an X-ray of a torso with her patient Keystone

Just over 20% of Swiss residents decided not to see a doctor last year for medical treatment due to the high costs, according to a new report. 

This content was published on November 10, 2017

This is one of the findings of the Health at a Glance 2017 reportExternal link published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Friday. 

The share of the population foregoing a doctor’s consultation due to cost in 2016 was highest in Poland (33% of the population) followed by the United States (22.3%). 

The 220-page report, which presents comparable health data and trends for 35 OECD countries, said 11.6% of Swiss people also skipped buying prescribed medicines last year because of the costs. 

The Swiss health care system is known for its excellent level of care, but is also among the most expensive in the world. Switzerland spends 11% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care, behind the US (17%), Netherlands, France, Germany and Canada. The costs covered by the mandatory health insurance system amounted to CHF31.5 billion ($32 billion) last year. 

The OECD report said in terms of overall health care expenditure, the US spends more per person than any other country ($9,892 per capita). Health care spending is also high in Switzerland ($7,919 per capita), Luxembourg ($7,463) and Norway ($6,647). 

The report calculated that in Switzerland 5.3% of household consumption was allocated to medical care in 2015 – the highest among all OECD countries studied. 

Switzerland has the highest number of nurses per capita (18 per 1,000 residents) and an above-average number of doctors (4.2 doctors per 1,000 residents).  

Life expectancy was 80.6 years on average across OECD countries in 2015. Japan and Spain led the group for men, followed by Switzerland (80.8 years). For women, Spain, South Korea, and Japan came out on top, followed by Switzerland (85.1 years). 

The report said people in OECD countries were generally living longer, but the burden of mental illness and chronic disease was rising.

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