People in Switzerland are living longer, according to new statistics showing that cardiovascular diseases, cancer and dementia are the country's three most common causes of death.

"/> People in Switzerland are living longer, according to new statistics showing that cardiovascular diseases, cancer and dementia are the country's three most common causes of death.

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

Life expectancy on the rise in Switzerland

People in Switzerland are living longer, according to new statistics showing that cardiovascular diseases, cancer and dementia are the country's three most common causes of death.

Most people in Switzerland die of old age, said the Federal Statistics Office (FSO) on Thursday, releasing 2009 data.

Life expectancy is on the rise, with men reaching an average of 74.4 years and women an average of 81.2.

The general health of the population is continuing to improve, said Christoph Junker, head of the health section of the FSO.

And the explanation is simple: “There are improvements in treatment, but there have also been improvement in prevention efforts. Practising sport has become widespread, so the population remains very active for a very long time,” Junker said, adding that demographers do not expect life expectancy to drop any time soon.

In all, 57 percent of people who died in 2009 were aged 80 or older, with 78 percent at least 70 years old.

Even though the Swiss die older, they still die of the same conditions as in previous decades. Cardiovascular diseases accounted for 36 percent of deaths (22,228 people), while cancer, especially lung cancer, caused 26 per cent of deaths (16,062 people).

However, in both cases mortality is declining. In just ten years, the mortality rate fell by 31 percent for cardiovascular diseases, and by 11 percent for cancer. Lung cancer is by far the most deadly: it caused twice as many deaths as breast cancer and prostate cancer, the two next most common forms of the disease.

The number of deaths from dementia doubled over the past decade with 4,700 people dying from the condition in 2009. In a statement, the statistics office said the rise was related to the ageing population and also the fact that doctors are now more likely to diagnose the disorder.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

HEALTH INSURANCE

What isn’t covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

Switzerland’s basic health insurance is among the most expensive in the world, but there are certain services it doesn’t pay for. Here are some of the benefits the scheme won’t cover in full.

What isn't covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

Basic insurance — KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian —  is compulsory in Switzerland. It doesn’t come cheap, but it is quite comprehensive and includes coverage for illness, medications, tests, maternity, physical therapy, preventive care, and many other treatments.

It also covers accidents for those who do not have accident insurance through their workplace.

Basically, whatever the doctor orders is covered by KVG / LaMal, at least partially.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

However, there are some treatments the basic insurance won’t pay for.

Experimental treatments

Any experimental treatments or drugs — that is, those not approved by the Swissmedic regulatory agency or the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) will not be covered.

This exclusion is not specifically Swiss; insurance schemes is most countries won’t cover unauthorised medical treatment either.

Dental care

In most cases, services such as teeth cleaning, dental fillings, root canals, tooth extractions, and orthodontic braces, are not included under basic insurance.

The only exceptions, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), are dental interventions “necessitated by a serious disorder of the masticatory system, or if such treatment is required to support and ensure the success of medical treatment for a severe general disorder (e.g. leukaemia, heart-valve replacement)”.

Most dental treatments are not covered. Photo by Pixabay

Eyeglasses and contact lenses

Compulsory health insurance will contribute up to 180 francs per year towards glasses and contact lenses prescribed by an ophthalmologist for children up to the age of 18.

No such benefit exist for adults. However, “in the case of serious visual impairment or certain illnesses (e.g. disease-related refraction abnormalities, postoperative alterations or corneal disease), compulsory health insurance will, regardless of age, make higher contributions towards medically prescribed spectacle and contact lenses”, FOPH says.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can Swiss health insurance exclude me if I have pre-existing conditions?

Ambulance

Emergency vehicles that transport you to a hospital can be quite expensive — depending on the canton, the costs can range from 900 to 2,000 francs per trip. 

Basic health insurance will contribute a certain amount  to the cost of emergency transportation, but only if it is a medical necessity — a serious accident, an illness, or a life-threatening situation. But if the patient could have travelled by private car or public transport, basic health insurance policies will pay nothing.

Insurance will cover some of the cost of ambulance transport only in emergency. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Private hospital room

While the cost of your hospitalisation will be fully covered, the basic insurance does not pay for a private room.

You will be accommodated in a room with other patients.

Depending on a medical facility — whether it’s a small hospital or a large, university medical centre, you could end up with just one other person or possibly four or five, the latter being common in teaching hospitals.

If you insist on a private accommodation, you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

Reader question: Can Swiss health insurance exclude me if I have pre-existing conditions?

Vaccines

Immunisations outlined by FOPH  will be paid for by insurance, as will the Covid vaccine.

Not covered, however, are travel-related vaccinations or preventive measures, such as against yellow fever or malaria.

Treatment abroad

Outside Switzerland, only emergency care is covered  — double the amount that the same treatment would cost in Switzerland.

Usually, basic health insurance will not cover transportation costs back to Switzerland, except in case of emergency, when it will cover 50 percent of the total cost of transportation to the nearest hospital abroad — but no more than 500 francs per year. 

If you only have a basic insurance policy and travel abroad often, especially to the United States, you should take out a travel insurance that will cover you for illness and accidents in foreign countries above and beyond what your Swiss carrier will pay.

And if you want to upgrade your treatment options, consider taking out a supplemental insurance or, if you can afford it, private one.

READ MORE: Should you buy supplemental health insurance in Switzerland?

You can find out more about what KVG / LaMal will and will not cover here.

SHOW COMMENTS