It switched to a system that separates insurance from employment. Each individual or family is required to buy coverage, and insurers must offer a basic package of benefits to all applicants. They can’t profit from selling basic coverage, but they can from supplemental plans. Premiums are deducted from paychecks; the unemployed and poor are subsidized.
Despite opposition from insurers, drugmakers, and business, the plan passed by a bare majority and went into effect in 1996. Switzerland now spends 11% of its gross domestic product on health care, just as it did before. But everyone is covered, insurers are more profitable than ever, and its high-quality health care has been maintained.
The lesson, as laid out in The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, by T.R. Reid, is that “health-care systems can be changed, even in the face of powerful…interests.”
Many Americans boast about having the best health care in the world, even though the U.N. ranks the U.S. system 37th, based on a broad range of measurements
At the same time, he learned that almost all countries use one of four health-care models: Germany’s Bismarck system, in which hospitals and insurers are private entities and financing comes from payroll deductions; Britain’s Beveridge Model, with the government providing health care financed by taxes; the Canadian plan, where private doctors and hospitals are paid by the government through taxes; and the out-of-pocket care found in most poor nations, where those who can afford care get it, while the rest suffer or die. Unlike any other country, the U.S. combines all four models
Related: posts on the economics of health care – Broken Health Care System: Self-Employed Insurance – Many Experts Say USA Health-Care System Inefficient, Wasteful – USA Spent $2.2 Trillion, 16.2% of GDP, on Health Care in 2007 – International Health Care System Performance