“Do American and Swiss patients get what they pay for?”
Published 16 Nov 2017 | swissinfo.ch by Tony Ganzer and Geraldine Wong Sak Hoi
“Health care doesn’t come cheap in the United States or Switzerland, and depending on your situation, the bill can vary widely. Are Americans and the Swiss getting top-quality care for their money?
Several readers wanted to know how much residents in the two countries pay for health care, in terms of public and private contributions, and whether the quality of care justifies the costs.
We’ve already given a primer on the health care systems in each country, and how many different insurance options US residents have depending on how much they make, what they do, and how old they are.
What does it cost, and why?
US healthcare spending is a whopping 17% of GDP, or more than $9,000 per capita. (Some estimates put the cost per person over $10,000). By comparison, Switzerland spends about 12% of GDP, at more than $6,300 per capita.
One reason for the higher cost in the US is that variety in coverage we mentioned before. With so many different insurance options and programs, there are lots of opportunities for increased administrative costs, and variety in how people might interact with health care services. It’s more expensive for someone to just go to an emergency room than deal with a doctor visit, for example. The EMTALA Act requires that the public have access to emergency care regardless of ability to pay. But that was meant to enable a patient to be stabilized and not as a general health care solution.
In some ways the Swiss health care system before reform looked a lot like the core of the US system. What changes did Switzerland make?
The biggest reasons for higher health care costs in the US might be linked to two things: prices and patients.”
“Two patchwork healthcare systems, and two stories of reform”
Published 2 Nov 2017 | swissinfo.ch
by Tony Ganzer and Geraldine Wong Sak Hoi, with input from Veronica DeVore
“In some ways the Swiss health care system before reform looked a lot like the core of the United States’ system, which might be why many eyed Switzerland during the wrangling over the Affordable Care Act. What changes did the Swiss make and what’s been the result?
In this first article in our series looking at health care on both sides of the Atlantic, we answer that question, sent in by one of our readers. He wondered what the Swiss system was like before reform and how it came about.
Why was there a desire for reform?
Before reform, insurance in Switzerland was not compulsory, rather voluntary, paid for in large part by premiums and co-pays. There was federal and cantonal support to help people who needed it, but that made up only 15 percent of financing. Some have argued that one “American” characteristic of this pre-reform system may have been the trend of private insurers snapping up non-profit “mutual” health plans, and refocusing on profits. This led private insurers to compete for “wealthy and healthy clients” because it’s cheaper and more profitable to insure people who are, well, healthier. Regulation existed in this pre-reform Helvetia, but wasn’t too heavy-handed.
It’s important to say that, even with more of an “American-style” system, Switzerland was still covering more than 90% of the population. (Some estimates put it at 96%). Why? Maybe one reason is because the Swiss are more risk averse, and have a strong sense of personal responsibility when it comes to health care.”
The best way to find out how people think about certain things is to talk to them, and listen. That may seem self-evident, especially when coming from a journalist, but it’s not. One of the casualties of the technology race to social media is the ability to read someone’s presentation of themselves and believe you now know their perspective. You don’t. Skimming a Twitter feed or Facebook page gives you nothing more than a snapshot of a moment in that person’s life. If you want to better understand a person’s perspective, you need to connect in a different way.
I don’t want to move, it ain’t about moving. It’s about change—trying to change it, so I won’t be a drive-by incident.
Cleveland has been mentioned among cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and New York, in the national soul-searching over police-community relations. Heated debates and efforts toward police reform have been spurred by cases like the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who had a pellet gun; the death in police custody of Tanisha Anderson who was suffering from mental illness; and the verdict of Patrolman Michael Brelo for firing the final 15 of 137 shots fired by police at a car after a high-speed chase; among others.
Update 12/25/14: I checked in recently with one of the former gang members we spoke to on The Sound of Ideas program in July. He told me things have been tough for him, and it’s hard to thrive given his difficult past. I produced an audio postcard with his thoughts: