How Switzerland wants to reduce healthcare costs

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset has announced a package of measures to cut rising healthcare costs while also improving the quality and efficiency of health services.

How Switzerland wants to reduce healthcare costs
Health Minister Alain Berset. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Health costs in Switzerland have tripled since 1990, with premiums rising in lockstep. 

While the government has taken steps to reduce healthcare costs recently by lowering drug prices and setting specific tariffs, this is expected to have a more significant impact on preventing future price hikes. 

The centrepiece of the plan is to restrict access to specialists. 

Patients will need to visit a general practitioner, ‘telemedicine centre’ or a ‘health maintenance organisation’ in order to have the cost of the specialist visit covered by the government. 

READ: How Swiss healthcare costs have 'doubled' since 2000 

Berset said that this was a common practice for many people in Switzerland but that the government sought to encourage it as a way of improving the functioning of the health system. 

By doing so, unnecessary visits and treatments can be avoided. 

Berset also said a more transparent system of communication between private and public entities would be established, while treatments would be subject to continued review in order to determine which are effective and where improvements can be made. 

The government will seek to ensure competition among hospitals by introducing so-called ‘reference tariffs’. 

In a tweet, Berset said “we must keep control of the costs and minimise the price increases – but not harm the quality of the treatment. Our health system must function well and be accessible and affordable for all. The measures improve control and coordination. Savings potential: approximately one billion.”




‘Cost targets in each canton’

The federal government would draw up a budget with each of the 26 cantons which included a target amount for expenditures. 

Under the plan, a target would be set for costs for medical services, hospital stays and drugs. 

Berset was however careful to reiterate that these targets would not amount to spending caps which would result in the rationing of medical services. 

Health authorities in Switzerland have started up a consultation process until November 19th, 2020. 

Berset hopes to save CHF1 billion per annum with the measures. 

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Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Sure, there are many adverts on the internet that claim to offer cheaper this and that, but more often than not, clicking on the link could cost you even more money (and time). However, there are also credible sites in Switzerland that will actually help you spend less.

Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

When you live in an expensive country like Switzerland, getting more bang for your buck (or franc) may seem like an impossible feat.

Some residents of border areas save money by shopping for groceries in France, Italy, or Germany, where most products are much cheaper.

But not everyone in Switzerland has access to these stores and some people may actually prefer to support their own economy, even if it costs more.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the cost of living in Switzerland

These six sites will not help you save money on everything, but they will help you in that direction. is an independent comparison platform that provides well-researched and impartial information on best deals in a variety of areas.

They include lowest prices for insurance (health, life, travel, car, and others); properties (including loans and mortgages); vehicles; and mobile phone and internet plans.

You can also find price comparison for various electronics; toys; beauty and wellness services; car and motorcycle accessories, and other products and services. is another, though similar, cost comparison website, where lowest prices for banking, insurance and telecom services can be found.

Like Comparis, Moneyland will often produce reports ranking certain products and services, such as healthcare and insurance plans, which can give you a valuable insight on how to save in Switzerland. 

We can’t tell you which of the two resources is better; visit both and see which one fits your needs. Both have a English-language pages, as well as producing reports in Switzerland’s national languages. 

Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

This comprehensive portal also lists prices for hundreds of products in a wide range of categories, including electronics; household items, and appliances; clothing and jewellery; and even wine.

You can get good deals on wine if you look around. Image by Holger Detje from Pixabay

This site compares prices of items ranging from foods to body care products at Coop, Migros, and Lidl.

The prices may not always be up to date (and may change as the war in Ukraine and inflation progress), but the site will nevertheless give you a good idea of which products are cheapest where.

READ MORE: 13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Consumer sites

While these websites aim primarily at protecting and defending consumer rights, they also have some useful information on how to save money on various purchases.

For instance, the Swiss-German chapter, Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz has advice on how to save on customs taxes when purchasing goods online in foreign countries.

In the French speaking cantons, Féderation  Romande des Consommateurs has information on where in the region you can pick your own strawberries and save money while doing so, and in Ticino, Associazione consumatrici e consumatori della Svizzera italiana has similar information.

If you visit these consumer sites regularly, you will find helpful advice on how and where to spend less on certain products and services at that particular time.

Find out where picking your own strawberries will save you money. Photo: Anna Tarazevich / Pexels

And then there is this…
If you want to know how much the price of communal services such as water and waste management is in your commune and how it compares with other Swiss municipalities, you can check it out on this official government website.
It doesn’t tell you per se how to save money on these services but it is a useful resource nevertheless.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?