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HEALTH

Coronavirus: Experts fear rise in Swiss health insurance premiums from 2021

From fewer elective surgeries to no wage increases for nurses, drastic measures are being considered to prevent ‘painful’ increases in Swiss health insurance premiums.

The President of the Swiss Health Director Conference fears the impact of the coronavirus will lead to increases in health premiums in Switzerland. 

Lukas Engelberger (Christian Democrats) said significant changes will need to be made by insurance companies and health authorities in order to avoid a rise in premiums from 2021. 

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As a result, Engelberger predicted that there would be no rises in wages for nurses in the foreseeable future. 

Speaking with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on Tuesday, Engelberger said the pandemic has had a significant impact on hospital operations – and will continue to do so in the short to medium term.

“The cost pressure will not simply go away – on the contrary. Higher health insurance expenditure is particularly painful”. 

Engelberger pointed out that the additional costs incurred due to the virus – for instance through the need to carry out testing – would need to be made back in other ways. 

Hospitals need more space for potential surges in coronavirus patients

A major consequence of the coronavirus outbreak is that hospitals needed to direct more resources to fighting the virus, whether that be among active patients or to set aside space to cater for new waves of the virus. 

“You will have to compromise on cost efficiency” Engelberger said. 

“The security of supply – and the possibility to increase capacity at short notice – will be given more weight in the future.”

As a result, several cost-cutting measures would be put in place. 

Engelberger said he envisioned fewer operations “where there is currently an oversupply”, including hip and knee replacements. 

No wage increases – although doctors could be asked to earn less

Despite being literally applauded across the country for their efforts in battling the pandemic, nurses and hospital staff were unlikely to see wage increases in the future due to the cost pressures placed on hospitals. 

“There is not the budget to pay more money to healthcare workers”. 

Engelberger however said that if extra money was needed to pay healthcare workers, it could be taken out of the pocket of “overpaid” doctors. 

“In some disciplines, medical work is probably overpaid today.”

The Swiss government is expected to sit down with hospitals and insurance companies – along with representatives from the cantons – to devise a strategy to tackle cost increases. 

 

 

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TAXES

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here. 

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