People in some cantons will face increases of up to 7.3 percent next year, according to figures released on Monday by the Swiss federal health office (BAG).
Next year’s figures – based on a standard adult health insurance with a 300 franc deductible – show that in seven cantons, all in German-speaking areas, premiums will rise below four percent on average. The canton of Bern will face the lowest rise, of 3.5 percent.
At the other end of the scale eleven cantons including Geneva will see their insurance payments go up by more than five percent, with those in the Jura facing the highest increase, of 7.3 percent.
Premiums in the eight remaining cantons will rise between four and five percent on average.
Families will be the hardest hit, with premiums for children under 18 rising by 6.6 percent on average.
Young adults aged 19-25 will see their health insurance bill increase by 5.4 percent.
Health insurers are obliged to set lower premiums for children, but the amount is not fixed by law. The heavy increase this year is due to the fact that premiums paid in previous years did not cover costs, said BAG.
Swiss basic health insurance, called LaMal, is obligatory for every resident. The country’s 60 or so private insurance companies set their premiums each year after discussion with the federal government.
Since LaMal was first introduced in 1996, premiums have risen by on average 4.6 percent a year and by 3.6 percent in the last decade, according to BAG.
In actual figures, that means average monthly premiums have increased from 173 francs in 1996 to 447 francs next year, based on a 300 franc deductible.
Some have slammed 2017’s rises, with Socialist Party MP Rebecca Ruiz telling news agencies that the news was “another hard blow” to the insured, particularly families.
Ruiz, who is also president of a patients’ service, said the news shows that parliament is not on the side of patients.
In recent months the Swiss federal government has considered a number of ideas to tackle the problem of growing medical costs, such as raising the lowest deductible.
But placing further financial burden on the insured will lead to a “two-speed” system whereby poorer people won’t go to the doctor for fear of the cost, said Ruiz.
Vaud MP Pierre-Yves Maillard told news agency ATS the whole system needs a rethink.
Speaking after the figures were released, he said the current system was “precarious and unstable” and called for the people to take matters into their own hands by developing a new popular initiative on the subject.
“It’s the only way to make parliament act,” he said.