Health care system

The Swiss health care system reflects the country's federal structure. Health care costs have risen steadily over the last few years.

Heart operation
Heart surgery at the Inselspital Bern © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

In Switzerland the cantons are largely responsible for overseeing healthcare provision (e.g. hospitals, advanced medicine, the authorisation to practice health professions, and prevention). The Swiss federal government is responsible for the compulsory health insurance scheme, control of communicable diseases, as well as medically assisted reproduction and transplants. 

Everyone who lives in Switzerland has to take out basic health insurance with a provider of their choosing. The monthly premium depends on where the person lives in Switzerland, their gender and the annual deductible sum they have chosen. For adults, the deductible can range from CHF 300 to CHF 2,500. In 2017 the average monthly premium for basic health insurance cover (including accident cover) was CHF 447. Everyone may also supplement their basic health cover with optional ‘supplementary’ health insurance. 

Health expenditure accounts for 11.7% of Swiss GDP. Spending rose to CHF 71.2  billion in 2014 compared with CHF 51.7 billion in 2004. Per capita health expenditure in Switzerland is the second highest among OECD countries after the United States. 

Rising health care costs are due to an ageing population, medical advances and rising public demand for medical services. A series of measures have been introduced to curb health costs in Switzerland. These include the promotion of managed-care models, a new hospital funding regime with a set price for each service provided, as well as an ‘eHealth’ strategy. 

In Switzerland there were 4.6 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants in 2014, compared with 7.6 in Austria, 8.2 in Germany and 6.2 in France. Over the last few years a number of cantons have restructured their hospital network, grouping certain specialist areas in one location or closing under-utilised facilities.