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Single Payer Pivot
Swiss Reject Single-Payer Health Care

The arc of health care policy may be long, but that doesn’t mean it bends towards single-payer. On Sunday, Swiss voters rejected a single-payer health care scheme proposed by the country’s left-leaning parties, with 64 percent of votes cast against the proposal. That’s lower than the 71 percent that rejected a similar idea in 2007 but ten points higher than the 54 percent rejection rate proponents expected. Business Insider has more:

Going public would have been a seismic shift for a country whose health system is often hailed abroad as a model of efficiency, but is a growing source of frustration at home because of soaring costs.

“Over the past 20 years in Switzerland, health costs have grown 80 percent and insurance premiums 125 percent,” ophthalmologist Michel Matter told AFP. […]

Supporters of the status quo argue that higher premiums are inevitable given an ageing population and costly cutting-edge medical care, and say shifting to a public system would generate few savings.

The country’s current health care system somewhat resembles what the U.S. system looks like post-ACA (or should look like, in theory). There’s an individual mandate and a marketplace in which the Swiss can shop for insurers. The similarity was not lost on the American left, who last year predicted that Switzerland would reject its version of the ACA and embrace a better, more centralized system—that is, do the single payer pivot. But the Swiss stayed put.

We’re of two minds about this vote. Undoubtedly the supporters of the current system are right that a public system wouldn’t permanently solve their country’s financial problems. Even in more regulated systems that have public health care, costs are still going up year-on-year. On the other hand, no country can afford to be as blasé about rising costs as some of the current system’s proponents seem to be. However, the answer lies with market innovation, not centralized control. 

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  • Boritz

    “health care scheme”
    Terminology that should, but hasn’t been, plentifully used in discussion of the ACA.

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