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Swiss government says it has a plan to contain healthcare costs

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As next year’s health premium bills find their way into Swiss mail or email boxes, the reality of another round of price increases starts to bite.

Earlier this week, Switzerland’s Federal Council unveiled 38 measures that will be considered as part of a plan to tackle Switzerland’s rising health costs. A final plan will be presented next spring, according to 20 Minutes.

A number of measures, such as the option of seeking treatment abroad, have already been implemented. Extending the list of out-patient-only treatments is currently being discussed along with a price reference system for drugs.

Health costs associated with things covered by Switzerland’s basic cover reached CHF 31 billion in 2016, around CHF 3,700 per person.

The Federal Council plans to look for savings by eliminating spending on treatments with no medical value. Also included, are possible changes to drug purchasing, such as parallel imports or forcing pharmacies to stock generic versions of drugs.

Spending caps are being considered too. These could be applied to separate categories of care. Germany, France and the Netherlands have had success with such measures according to health minister Alain Berset.

However, caps are controversial. They amount to a form of rationing.

In the UK a debate is currently raging around the idea of rationing surgery by withholding it from obese patients and smokers until they lose weight or stop smoking. According to the BBC, the NHS in Hertfordshire, decided to breath test smokers before they are considered for non-urgent surgery.

Smokers must quit eight weeks before surgery, and patients with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 must lose 15% of their weight to qualify. The committee said they had to “make best use of the money and resources available”. The plans also aim to encourage people to take more responsibility for their own health, freeing up limited NHS resources for priority treatment.

The move has sparked opposition from some sections of the UK public, including some health professionals and administrators.

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, some cancers, respiratory problems and diabetes. Tobacco alone accounts for 7.2 million deaths every year, according to the World Health Organisation.

An underlying question in this debate is: who should pick up the health bill for unhealthy lifestyles? Everyone or just those who lead them?


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About Le News
Le News
The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.
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