Research - 12.07.2016 - 00:00 

Challenges in the Swiss health sector

The Institute of Insurance Economics (I.VW-HSG) has conducted a survey of the challenges in the Swiss health sector among health insurers. Demographic change, increasing regulation and deficient institutional structures are the biggest building sites in Switzerland’s health sector.

13 July 2016. The Institute of Insurance Economics was commissioned by the health insurer’s federation, santésuisse, to analyse the status quo and future challenges in the Swiss health system from the health insurers’ perspective. For this purpose the authors of the study led by Prof. Dr. Martin Eling identified central strategic challenges on the basis of so-called megatrends and subjected them to a discussion in the course of a market survey. 18 insurers, whose customers represent about half the Swiss population, were willing to take part in the survey.

High costs for the Swiss health system

The results reveal that Switzerland has a very good health system with very high standards of performance. As a rule, Switzerland occupies one of the upper places in international studies comparing health systems. Only the high level of costs is the subject of continuing, controversial discussion since the relatively high quality is purchased at relatively high costs. Therefore political discussions often focus on the question as to how health care could be made more cost-efficient: a similarly good performance at – if at all possible – lower costs.

“But this hope is unlikely to come true,” says study author Prof. Dr. Martin Eling, since Switzerland’s health system will be confronted with numerous challenges in the coming year which will result in enormous additional costs. These challenges include an ageing population with substantial cost effects ranging from nursing care to medical-technological progress, which will enable many people to live a long life in good health, but will at the same time be very expensive. “Organising such a good health system at lower costs is unlikely to be feasible against the background of these developments,” says Eling.

Encourage cost-efficient innovations

However, there are levers with which effectiveness and efficiency in the health sector can be enhanced and thus the cost increases kept within reasonable limits. In this respect, the study refers to growing regulation and deficient institutional structures in the Swiss health sector. For instance, the fact is mentioned that many health insurers are supervised by several authorities at the same time and that they only possess very few instruments with which they can influence costs.

The study demands that politics should create general conditions that promote and reward the development of cost-efficient innovations. Also, it takes up the latest proposal made by the Social Security and Health Committee (SSHC) of the National Council, which provides for a reduction in premiums for people aged between 19 and 35. “From my point of view, one could even go a step further and specifically reduce young families’ premiums,” says Eling.

Bild: Photocase / fmatte

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