Higher premiums push one in two families to the limit

Feeling the strain of escalating health insurance premiums.

As thoughts start turning to autumn, the outlook is increasingly gloomy for Swiss families, and it’s not just because of the longer, darker nights. The prospect of health insurers hiking their premiums is looming large. Swiss policyholders are expecting an increase of 5 per cent or 270 francs on average for 2018. This was revealed by an exclusive survey carried out by Comparis in July 2017. 

According to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the average Swiss premium has worked out at 447.26 francs per month in 2017. A 5 per cent premium increase amounts to 270 francs per year, which would be beyond the budget of many families. Of all the families surveyed, 40 per cent said they could not cope with another increase in premiums. While 20 per cent said they could manage an increase of no more than 10 francs per month, just 13 per cent felt that an additional 20 francs per month was within their means.

Pharmaceutical industry and overuse of health services to blame

The unchecked rise in premium prices is taking a particular toll on family budgets. The pharmaceutical industry and people who use healthcare services frivolously are being held responsible for this development. Some 65 per cent of respondents believe that pharmaceuticals manufacturers are the biggest contributor to these unfavourable cost trends, while 63 per cent blame selfish policyholders who use health services frivolously and unnecessarily. For 55 per cent of respondents, doctors and hospitals represent the biggest drivers of cost. One in five feel that the rise in costs is also a consequence of medical progress.

Patients want more generic products

Overall, the price of health insurance premiums appears to have reached the pain threshold for a wide range of people. Of those surveyed, 90 per cent would be prepared for their doctors to prescribe only cheaper generic products if that meant lower health insurance premiums in return. Asked what level of discount they would expect in this case, three quarters of respondents cited a 10 to 30 per cent premium reduction.

It's clear to Comparis health insurance expert Felix Schneuwly that the majority of policyholders are looking to save money: “If you are prepared to pay more out of your own pocket when you are ill and opt for an efficient model like Telmed, family doctor or HMO, you ought to get higher premium discounts in future.” He goes on: “If, however, you are inclined to consult several specialists for minor issues or go straight to emergency when you have the flu, you ought to pay much higher premiums. Swiss Federal Council member Alain Berset is doing the exact opposite. He wants to bring premiums into line for all policyholders across Switzerland. The entire Federal Council, together with Parliament, needs to oppose this.”

If your current budget does not stretch to the increased premiums imposed by your basic health insurance provider, you need to reconsider your spending. One in two (51 per cent) would curb unnecessary expenses. Just under 38 per cent would apply for a reduction in premiums and 32 per cent would introduce measures like trying to reduce their health-related expenses and not visiting the doctor for non-urgent problems.


Methodology and basis of calculations

The survey was carried out in July 2017 among users of Internet comparison service, with 700 people from all parts of the country taking part. It is not representative.