Swiss health

OECD Observer

Switzerland’s health system is arguably one of the world’s best, but at what cost? This is a question raised in a new report produced jointly by the OECD and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Swiss spending on health is the second highest in the OECD area at 11.5% of GDP and higher than the OECD average of 8.8%. Costs have been rising.

“Switzerland will have to develop more cost-effective policies if it wants to better control health expenditure in the future”, says John Martin, Director of the Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate at the OECD.

The report recommends measures such as fixed prices for inpatient care and more competition in the drugs market. Some 26 semi-autonomous bodies run Swiss health care, and with ageing and technology pushing up costs, longer-term gains will require a new governance framework, the report warns. The authors also recommend discouraging insurers from selecting clients on the basis of risk.

Switzerland ploughs only 2.2% of its health spending into disease prevention and promoting healthier living. For Marc Danzon, WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, the aim should also be to “prevent disease in the whole population by actively targeting people at high risk.”

For more on OECD Reviews of Health Systems: Switzerland (2006), see or order it at ISBN 9264025820

©OECD Observer No 257, October 2006

Economic data

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Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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