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Swiss MPs backtrack on plans to hike out-of-pocket health care costs

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Swiss MPs backtrack on plans to hike out-of-pocket health care costs
File photo: Depositphotos
09:28 CET+01:00
In a surprise move, Swiss MPs have voted against plans that would have seen some people paying a greater share of their own healthcare expenses.

Almost everyone who lives in Switzerland must take out basic compulsory health insurance, which generally costs several hundred Swiss francs a month.

However, policy holders can choose what level of out-of-pocket expense they are liable for by selecting their ‘franchise', or ‘deductible' as it is also known.

Read also: What you need to know before you take out Swiss health insurance

Under this system, the minimum franchise is 300 Swiss francs (around €265) and the maximum franchise is 2,500 francs.

If you have a ‘300-franc' franchise, for example, your insurer will start paying towards costs as soon as your health care bill hits 300 francs.

People with a lower franchise pay higher monthly premiums but the upside is that their health insurance provider starts chipping in towards costs sooner.

But in a controversial move, Swiss MPs recently voted to raise the minimum franchise for compulsory basic health insurance from the current 300 francs to 350 francs.

The planned changes would have seen people forced with this level of cover to pay at least 350 francs out of their own pocket, rather than the current 300 francs.

The proposal was part of a mechanism that would have seen health insurance franchises pegged more closely to real healthcare costs to the system.

The aim of the plan put forward by the Swiss government was to try and bring down spiralling health care costs by discouraging people from unnecessary doctor's visits or medical treatments.

Switzerland has some of the highest per capital health care costs in the world and there has been intense political discussion over the last year about how to bring these costs down.

However, in a new vote on Friday, MPs voted against the 50-franc rise, meaning the minimum franchise will now remain at 300 francs after all.

The surprise move came after the conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP) – the largest party in the lower house – changed its tune.

It had previously approved the increase but then last week it came out against the plan, arguing it was a “band aid” solution to the problem of health care costs. The party said the whole system needed an overhaul.

Commentators said the SVP's about-face on a move that would be unpopular with voters was made with one eye on national elections in Switzerland later this year.

The Socialists (SP), who rejected the proposal from the outset, had previously warned they would launch a referendum to try and have the changes overturned.

 
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