Switzerland's consumer-driven health care system achieves universal
insurance and high quality of care at significantly lower costs than the employer-based
US system and without the constrained resources that can characterize government-controlled
systems. Unlike other systems in which the choice and most of the funding
for health insurance is provided by third parties, such as employers and governments,
in the Swiss system, individuals are required to purchase their own health
insurance. The positive results achieved by the Swiss system may be attributed
to its consumer control, price transparency of the insurance plans, risk adjustment
of insurers, and solidarity. However, the constraints the Swiss system places
on hospitals and physicians and the paucity of provider quality information
may unduly limit its impact. The Swiss health care system holds important
lessons, including evidence about its feasibility and equity, for the United
States, which is now embarking on its own consumer-driven health care system.
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