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The Swiss say "no" to Government health insurance
Posted by: McQ on Monday, March 12, 2007

Something which we should heed and study:
Swiss voters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal for a single health insurer.

In the March 11 ballot, 71% of voters were against the proposal to establish one state-run insurer to replace the 87 that now write the coverage.

Voting against the proposal was heaviest in the German-speaking part of the country with opposition lighter in the French and Italian-speaking regions.

The initiative made it onto the ballot after the left-leaning Mouvement Populaire des Familles collected 110,000 signatures to force the vote. The group claimed the current system is too costly and wanted it replaced by a single insurer that would base premiums on wealth and income.

Health insurance is mandatory for Swiss residents.
Any guess as to why the Swiss said no to a single state-run insurer? As Bruce Kesler notes:

The Swiss have seen the medical backwardness and rationing, at huge and unaffordable budgetary and societal costs, among their national health neighbors in Europe.
Most likely it has to do with their awareness of how well that scheme works among their neighbors as opposed to what they have. Chalk one up for freedom of choice.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

The Swiss are smarter than “your average European bear”. This vote proves it.
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
The Swiss model is interesting. First of all, it is mandatory for all citizens, and it does not involve employers providing it. This means employees earn more, and the cost of insurance is spread out, you don’t have a chunk of the population with employer provided care and a small group having to buy very expensive insurance (or none).

Second, the government has strict price controls, and in fact negotiates the price of insurance plans. The Swiss negotiate fees with health care providers, insurance companies, and get approval from the cantons. They pay considerably less than Americans (about $3800 per person, the US about $5700), but more than other Europeans. They have no waits, and can see any doctor in their canton.

Finally, Swiss cantons subsidize poorer citizens based on income (a family of four may pay about $600-$700 per month on average). Overall a well conceived system, I think. I don’t think it could be replicated in the US at a nation-wide scale, but could be a model for individual states.
Written By: Scott Erb
"a small group having to buy very expensive insurance (or none)"
This is not true. You should conduct more research. The cost of individual health insurance varies depending on several factors including state mandates (for example, in NJ insurers are forced to offer expensive policies only). Where I live individual insurance is quite inexpensive. My daughter and I only pay $129 a month for major medical with a $5100 annual deductible (that’s a total, across the whole family). Before my daughter was born I only paid $95 a month for a $2100 deductible. Notice my daughter only costs $35 a month. That’s dirt cheap, but I’m covered if anything major happens. After the deductible, everything is 100% paid for. I could choose a lower deductible but I don’t see the point and I tie this insurance to an HSA.

It’s also quite common that "employer provided" (because the employees really pay for it) insurance is very expensive and overloaded with coverage. All my past employers offered Lexus insurance even though no one needed it. But no one is usually given a choice. When offered a choice, few people opt to pay $400 a head per month when they can spend 33% of that.

I’ll take my insurance over the "well conceived" Swiss system anyday, which also sounds too expensive.

Written By: Grandersnack
URL: http://
PS. Scott Erb, check out this prognosis on the forthcoming mandated health insurance in Mass. The law of unintended consequences is going to have a field day with this one.
Written By: Grandersnack
URL: http://
I am bummed. Although I had zero expectations, I wish that I had been proven wrong and that this effort would... nevermind.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Not exactly their direct neighbors - the inefficiecies described by Kessler sound more like the British system.

The German and Austrian national health systems are efficient enough that British patinets turn up in droves to be treated there. To be sure, both systems are only as good because there is a lot of private health care additionally to national health care.
Written By: Ralf Goergens

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