Thousands in Switzerland are blacklisted for not paying health insurance premiums
Nearly 30,000 people in Switzerland are on a ‘blacklist’ because they don’t pay their health insurance premiums, according to Swiss media.
Blacklists have only been permitted as an option since 2012 and only nine cantons have chosen to introduce them, the Aargauer Zeitung reported on Wednesday.
The lists include people who do not pay their premiums or fall behind in their payments
There are 12,000 people blacklisted in the canton of Aargau alone, said the paper, taking its data from SanteSuisse, the umbrella organization for health insurance companies. That number has doubled since 2014.
Those blacklisted will no longer receive cover for medical bills apart from in an emergency.
Speaking to the paper, economist Heinz Locher said the situation was “absurd”.
Only paying emergency medical costs will lead to a bigger, more expensive problem in the long run, he said.
“In numerous cases that will be more expensive than treating an illness when it first presents,” he said.
Several of the blacklisted spoke to newspaper 20 Minuten on Thursday, with many saying they avoid going to the doctor because they can’t afford it.
One, a 33-year-old father, said paying health insurance premiums had pushed the family into debt, and that he simply couldn’t afford them anymore, even with a reduction.
Swiss basic health insurance (LaMal) is compulsory for everyone in Switzerland. Individuals can choose from one of over 60 private insurers which offer the same level of cover.
The cost of premiums has spiralled in recent years. Since the law on compulsory health insurance came into force in 1996 the average standard premium has risen by 4.6 percent a year, taking monthly payments from 173 francs in 1996 to 428 francs in 2016.
Premiums are set to go up again by four percent in 2018.
People on low incomes can be eligible for a premium reduction. The system is regulated at cantonal level and the process can vary from canton to canton – in some, an eligible person will be contacted directly while in others the person must apply for the reduction.