How two countries handle illness prevention

“How two countries handle illness prevention”
Published 18 Jan 2018 | swissinfo.ch
by Tony Ganzer and Geraldine Wong Sak Hoi

Preventing or addressing an early-stage medical condition is a big piece of the health care puzzle. But the practice is sporadic in both the US and Switzerland.

In our previous articles on American and Swiss health care, much of the focus has been on the costs, consequences, and construction of health care delivery systems in the US and Switzerland. That’s to say, we’ve mostly worried about the particulars of a patient getting treatment for conditions.

But health care is not just provided once a condition is diagnosed, or an injury needs treatment.

Preventive medicine is also a big piece of the puzzle. Health care screenings, vaccinations or education campaigns all add to a longer view of health care delivery. It’s not just about visiting a doctor for treatment; it’s also about living with healthy habits and periodically getting checked out to make sure nothing is developing.

Proponents credit preventive medicine with lowering costs and helping improve health outcomes over time. A 2006 studyexternal link concluded that focusing on things like tobacco cessation programs and daily aspirin use would have led to longer lives and $3.7 billion in US health care savings…”

Read the whole article at Swissinfo.ch

What’s being done to bring down high drug costs?

“What’s being done to bring down high drug costs?”
Published 28 Dec 2017 | swissinfo.ch
by Tony Ganzer and Geraldine Wong Sak Hoi

“…Americans, just as well as Swiss, have been asking why such high prices are the norm. Some US observers think plainly, “because there’s nothing stopping them”.

Prices in the US are determined by the market, or by negotiated deals with insurance companies. The government does not impose price controls, even for Medicare patients. The full-service healthcare system of the Veterans Administration (VA) does negotiate prices, and some states have tried to link state healthcare drug costs to those of the VA, but in both California and Ohio voters have said no, largely because the issue is complicated and unclear.

The US is also prescribing drugs more than other countries, for ailments connected to things like obesity, which preventive medicine initiatives aim to head-off. (We’ll cover preventive medicine in our next article)

What’s clear is people in both Switzerland and the US are talking about how expensive drugs are, but what’s to be done…”

Read the whole article at Swissinfo.ch

Two patchwork healthcare systems, and two stories of reform

“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.”

Read the full article at swissinfo