Swiss Style Health Care in the U.S.: A Compromise?

Somewhat inspired by this thread about abandoning the pubic option. I recently saw a video in which Senator Al Franken addressed a crowd of people outdoors regarding health care reform. In it, he touches on the idea that there are in fact several different ways health care reform could possibly end up, none of which are set in stone at this point. In particular, he mentions the health care system in Switzerland as one possibility.

I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of the Swiss style system is lacking. All I know I learned from the Wikipedia article. My understanding is that the Swiss system involves no public option. Rather, insurance companies are tightly regulated. They are required to offer some kind of a basic package to all citizens (who are required to have insurance of some form) regardless of sex, age, or pre-existing condition. Should one desire, citizens are free to supplement this basic coverage with more comprehensive policies. To keep costs manageable on the part of both the insured and the insurer, the insured pays a part of all medical costs. This is done
[li] by means of an annual excess (or deductible, called the franchise), which ranges from CHF 300 to a maximum of CHF 2,500 as chosen by the insured person (premiums are adjusted accordingly);[/li] [li] and by a charge of 10% of the costs over and above the excess. This is known as the retention, and is up to a maximum of 700CHF per year (excluding medication).[/li][/ul]

It seems to me this might appeal to liberals like myself, who favor universal coverage and an end to healthcare recission, and to conservatives who disfavor a government option for fear that it would unfairly compete with private companies (for example, by not being self-sustaing).

As long as appropriate regulations were put in place to reign in prices, I think it’d be worthwhile. Republicans couldn’t tar it with the “socialist” label, so if the Democrats really got behind this it would win the PR battle quite handily.

The worst thing that could happen would be for Congress to pass nothing, like it did in 1994. We have a genuine healthcare crisis, and if Congress can’t pass a bill that’s a sign to me that we have a political system that’s incapable of actually governing.

I’m quite interested in hearing what the board’s conservatives have to say about the Swiss approach.

Probably something along the lines of 'The government would be infringing on the freedom of companies to be successful, reducing profits and their dividends to the stockholders, who would then not have the money to re-invest; thus causing the collapse of the economy and the ultimate government take-over of our entire lives!. And insert shouts of ‘Communism!’ and ‘Socialism!’ in there too.

Perhaps you mean 1974? Nixon’s Plan For Health Reform, In His Own Words | Kaiser Health News

The Swiss approach is fairly well exactly what I had envisioned as a system for American health care. You decide a minimum level of care, tell insurance companies that they can’t refuse clients or give them less than that, and otherwise don’t do anything at all.

To me, the ideal is to make it so that the only way for an insurance company to really outperform its competitors is if they can show their plan–whether that be free/mandatory yearly examinations or whatever–creates the longest living people.

I’m shocked at how liberal Richard Nixon was compared to the standards of today’s Republican Party. Republicans used to be downright reasonable people.

I’d like to revive this thread. I would find one of two health care reforms acceptable:

A public option to counteract private insurance companies run amok. This would provide a baseline level of care to all Americans who want it, with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions. It could have several tiers of care packages. Alterntively, one could buy the basic package and supplement with private companies. Private insurers would be left mostly alone to operate business as they see fit, but insurance policies would be decoupled from employment. This would introduce more competition among the insurers vastly improve the security of millions of Americans.

As much as I detest private insurance companies, there are two mechanisms by which I can see this reform possibility changing their practices. First, the availability of a widespread public option would force the insurance companies to work harder to satisfy their customers, whether by lowering premiums or lowering rates of rescission. Second, the guarantee of a public option (which would pick up the tab for major life-threatening care of its policy-holders) could perhaps relieve some of the financial strain from private insurance companies, allowing them some breathing room to be more equitable to their policy-holders.

I’d be willing to forego a public option if insurance companies were much more tightly regulated, as in Switzerland or Japan. Essentially, insurance companies would be forced to offer a baseline set of care to anyone who desired it at an affordable price. This would be justified on the basis that basic human health is not a commodity (although, even this is admittedly controversial), and if they want to operate in a first-world country they have to play by certain rules. If health care were decoupled from employment, it would introduce more competition among the insurers and vastly improve the security of millions of Americans.