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Why a Swiss consumer group demands the ‘freezing’ of health premiums

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why a Swiss consumer group demands the ‘freezing’ of health premiums
A consumer group calls for the freeze of health insurance premiums. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

The cost of health insurance in Switzerland continues to increase, prompting an organisation representing consumers to push for measures to keep next year’s premiums from rising.


The premiums for Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance (KVG in German, and LaMal in French and Italian) have been soaring for the past two years, as a consequence of higher-than-usual health spending during the Covid pandemic, as well as other contributing factors (more about them below).

READ ALSO: Why is Swiss health insurance set to get more expensive?

This year, the premiums rose by 6.6 percent on average, though they are much higher in some cantons.

The highest premium increases are in Neuchâtel (+9.5 percent), Appenzell Innerrhoden (9.3 percent), and Ticino (9.2 percent). Residents of Zurich saw their premiums increase by 7 percent.

READ ALSO : Why do Swiss healthcare premiums vary so much per canton?

While the premiums for 2024 will not be released until the end of October, the government already said they would go up again.

"Premiums are calculated in advance using estimates,”  the Federal Department of Public Health (FOPH) joined out. “The pandemic has made this exercise particularly difficult. It now appears that the premiums paid during the years 2021 and 2022 proved insufficient to cover the costs; a catch-up is essential.”

A burden for the consumers

In view of this increase, the Consumer Federation of French-Speaking Switzerland (FRC) is demanding that the government freezes the premiums to stop them from rising next year.
“The share [of the healthcare costs] paid by the consumers must be capped,” FRC said in a press release. This situation can’t go on.”

The association added that "the premium freeze should be lifted only when Parliament succeeds in reducing healthcare costs.”

While some expenses to health insurance companies, like the one billion francs spent during the pandemic, in addition to 265 million spent for Covid vaccinations in 2021, couldn’t be helped, others — including overspending on medications as well as treatments and procedures — should have been curbed, the FRC said.


Various measures under discussion

Legislators are not exactly idle in coming up with proposals on how to curtail healthcare spending — and thus prevent higher premiums — but no concrete steps to implement them have been yet taken.

For instance, the Centre / Mitte party demands that the Federal Council and the cantons intervene if healthcare costs rise sharply in relation to wages.

A similar initiative by the Social Democratic party wants a ruling that no household has to spend more than 10 percent of its disposable income on premiums.

Proposals also come from Santésuisse, an umbrella organisation for Swiss health insurers, which has been urging the government to implement a range of reforms to reduce costs and ensure that not so many are passed on to consumers. 

One is to establish a system which rewards efficiency and cost-effectiveness in service delivery, encouraging doctors, hospitals and pharmacies to be more expedient. 

“We could also, for example, lower the laboratory prices, as we pay up to three times as much as abroad,” according to Santésuisse’s head Verena Nold, who said that a reduction in drug prices to European levels is also an option.


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