"Unfair" should be a banned word
Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a plan to ditch the country's all-private health insurance system and create a state-run scheme, exit polls showed.
Some 64 per cent of the electorate shot down a plan pushed by left-leaning parties which say the current system is busting the budgets of ordinary residents, figures from polling agency gfs.bern showed.
Going public would have been a seismic shift for a country whose health system is often hailed abroad as a model of efficiency, but is a growing source of frustration at home because of soaring costs.
"Over the past 20 years in Switzerland, health costs have grown 80 per cent and insurance premiums 125 per cent," ophthalmologist Michel Matter told AFP.
"This is not possible any more. It has to change," said Dr Matter, who heads the Geneva Physicians Association, which backs calls to scrap the current system. [Didact: Uh... why?]
Campaigners who championed the push for a state-held insurance scheme have said it is the only way to rein in rising premiums and guarantee they are used efficiently and transparently. [Didact: Oh. That's why. Of course, the campaigners for state-run health care very conveniently left out the fact that a state-run system inevitably results in rationing and lines and queues.]
Sunday's referendum came after reformers mustered more than the 100,000 signatures required to hold a popular vote, a regular feature of Switzerland's direct democracy.
The rejection of the plan by nearly two-thirds of voters is a major blow for pro-reform campaigners, given that recent polls had shown the "no" vote was likely to be 54 per cent.
In a 2007 referendum, 71 per cent rejected similar reforms.
The current system, which was used as a model for US President Barack Obama's controversial healthcare reform, requires that every resident in the wealthy nation of eight million hold basic health insurance and offers freedom of choice among the 61 companies competing for customers.
In a country where the average monthly net salary is 4,950 Swiss francs (S$6,630), health premiums are around 400 francs per adult per month.
That does not include out-of-pocket spending on treatment such as dental care, not covered by basic insurance.
Premiums vary by insurer, age and region of residence, and clients can cut them by opting for an annual deductible - a sum they pay from their own pockets - of up to 2,500 francs.
Critics say the current system is unfair because basic coverage costs a millionaire no more than it does a low-paid worker. [Didact: It's not even 10am and I've already got a headache, just from reading that sentence.]
Studies show that almost one-fifth of those on low incomes have skipped at least one monthly payment in a country where rents and retail prices are among Europe's highest.
The reformers also allege that insurers have too much political clout, with research showing that 14 per cent of lawmakers have links to health firms or the sector's lobby groups.
But for Switzerland's cross-party government and its right- and centre-dominated Parliament, the current system has proven its mettle and is debt-free, unlike the health services of France, Italy or Britain.
"We don't have a deficit in Switzerland. It's a healthy system. Of course, we can criticise a lack of transparency by some insurers, but state control isn't going to solve such problems," said Ivan Slatkine, a senior party official from the rightist Liberal Radicals.
|Note the bulge in the middle- classic case of aging population.|
|Well would ya lookit that... the bulge grew out over time. Whoodathunkit?!|
There are more people today in the age brackets that consume health care than there were in the past. Demand for health care goes up. Supply of of doctors and health care providers stays roughly constant or even declines, largely due to the fact that Switzerland's birth rate is far below replacement level. Demand is MANDATED by government decree stating that ALL residents of Switzerland must have health insurance. Hence, prices go up as demand goes up.
Critics say the current system is unfair because basic coverage costs a millionaire no more than it does a low-paid worker.
|Here's another one. You're welcome.|