Swiss voters back single-payer health insurance

Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, June 24, 2013

The proposal of creating a single fund for health insurance would be accepted by voters if the ballot for the initiative were held today, according to a poll commissioned by the pharmaceutical lobby group Interpharma.

About 65 per cent of the population would approve the proposal and 28 per cent would reject it, according to the first poll conducted on the issue. The result is still not very conclusive, as only about 31 per cent of people surveyed said they would actually participate in the vote.

In 2014 or 2015, the initiative for public health insurance will be put to a nationwide vote, which if accepted will see current providers of basic cover replaced by a single public fund. Under Swiss law, health insurance is compulsory, and residents currently may choose between offerings of about 60 companies which provide coverage.

The initiative – supported by the centre-left Social Democrats and by the Greens as well as by patient and consumer organisations – would leave only supplemental insurance in the hands of private companies.

The survey was conducted as part of the 2013 Health Monitor by GfS Bern research and polling institute.  The Health Monitor also showed that three out of four people in Switzerland view the health system in Switzerland positively, the highest share ever.…, April 19, 2013

According to the 2012 Health Monitor of the GfS Bern research and polling institute, 40 per cent of those questioned were in favour of a change, while 45 per cent preferred to stick with the current system.…

Whereas last year 40 percent of Swiss voters supported change in the health insurance system, the same poll this year shows that 65 percent support a single fund for health insurance – single payer. It is difficult to know if this support is malleable, and whether it would hold up under the political rhetoric of campaigns. A similar measure in 2007 was rejected by 70 percent of their voters.

Nevertheless, it should make us challenge those who keep telling us that we need a system just like the Swiss have – a mandate to purchase plans from a market in which about 60 insurers participate. Clearly, though they view their system positively, there is very strong support for a single public health insurance program.

CMS’s new website ( promotes the “Health Insurance Marketplace.” Sounds sort of like the Swiss system. If we’re going copy the Swiss, why don’t we skip their mistakes and go directly to single payer?