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HEALTH

Survey: Swiss back cantonal regulation of health insurance premiums

Nearly two thirds of the Swiss population support the creation of a single organization per canton to regulate health insurance and fix premiums at a set rate, according to a new survey.

Survey: Swiss back cantonal regulation of health insurance premiums
Photo: ArturVerkhovetskiy/Depositphotos
Launched at the end of September, the initiative ‘Health insurance: For the organisational freedom of cantons’, wants to allow each canton to create an institution that can fix health insurance premiums at a set rate within that canton. 
 
Private insurers would still exist and administer health insurance, but premiums for basic health insurance (LaMal) would be the same for every resident of that canton.
 
And according to a survey by online comparison site bonus.ch, published on Tuesday, over 64 percent are in favour of the plan. 
 
People in French-speaking areas were most in favour, with 71.4 percent judging the idea ‘good’ or ‘very good’, said bonus.ch in a statement. A majority of those in Italian-speaking Ticino also supported the plan (65.4 percent). However people in Swiss German parts were divided, with only 51.5 percent ticking ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
 
If only counting those who responded with ‘very good’, people in the canton of Jura were most enthusiastic, at 56.5 percent. That was followed by the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Fribourg. 
 
Swiss German cantons were the least enthusiastic, with only 15.9 percent of respondents in the canton of Zurich ticking ‘very good’.
 
Men were slightly more in favour than women, found the survey, however age had no bearing on the results.  
 
The committee behind the initiative is backed by four politicians who are the health ministers within their cantonal governments.
 
They now have until April 2019 to collect the required 100,000 signatures to push it to a referendum.
 
 
If the Swiss people were to vote in favour of the plan it would be a massive change for a system that many feel is unfair, unwieldy and too expensive.
 
Currently, residents must choose from one of over 60 private health insurers for their compulsory basic medical insurance. 
 
Though the cover is the same, premiums vary wildly.
 
Since the law on LaMal came into effect in 1996, the average standard premium has risen by 4.6 percent a year. 
 
Premiums for 2018 will rise by an average of four percent, the government announced at the end of September, citing rising health care costs as the cause.
 
In 2014 Swiss voters rejected a plan to scrap the current system and create a single, publicly-run health insurance scheme. 
 
For members

INSURANCE

Why your Swiss car insurance should contain a ‘weasel clause’

This may sound like a joke, but it really isn’t: these small furry animals cause millions of francs in damage to Swiss vehicles each year. This is how you can protect yourself against these critters and their very sharp teeth.

Why your Swiss car insurance should contain a ‘weasel clause’

If you own a car in Switzerland which you park outdoors, it is possible that you have tried to start the engine in the morning, only to find that the vehicle “died” overnight.

A variety of mechanical problems could cause this breakdown, but it is very likely that a weasel …weaseled its way under your car and gnawed at the wires, just because that’s what these creatures seem to do in Switzerland.

And if you think that weasel-inflicted damage is rare and inconsequential — it isn’t.

For instance, each year AXA Insurance treats about 17,000 claims of damage perpetrated by weasels, which are particularly active during May and June. In 2020, these claims amounted to approximately 8 million francs.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about car insurance in Switzerland

According to Swiss Professional Automobile Association (UPSA), “weasels like to eat automotive cables, pipes, insulating mats and rubber parts. This is why Swiss vehicles suffer damage estimated at several million francs every year”.

However, weasels don’t just “eat” vehicle components; they attack them in the literal sense of the word.

And it is not a pretty sight — or smell.

These animals  “feel very comfortable in the warm environment of engine compartments. They mark their territory by depositing odorous secretions each time they visit a car. Until then, the mammal does not cause any damage. This becomes problematic as soon as one of its congeners enters the same engine compartment and perceives the smell of the other. This awakens the territorial instinct in him. This is why it bites and then gnaws anything that carries the scent of the other animal”, UPSA reports.

Now that you know how and why this happens, the question is — what can you do about it?

One preventive measure recommended by UPSA is to regularly wash the engine, as this may neutralise the animals’ ‘markers’ and deter other weasels from munching.

How much does it cost to repair the damage?

Depending on what kind of havoc a weasel wreaks under the hood, costs of repair vary, with an average price being 450 francs, according to AXA.

It is therefore important to make sure your auto insurance covers weasel damage.  The premium will be determined by your car model, its age, and the extent of coverage you choose, but it is an option offered by all Swiss insurance companies.

This is just one more thing to make sure your life in Switzerland doesn’t get too boring.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Swiss healthcare costs are rising and how you can save

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