Healthcare Costs for Asylum Seekers: An In-Depth Analysis and Controversial Findings

2023-07-03 12:09:00

Asylum seekers usually have a physically and mentally demanding flight behind them. Their need for health care is correspondingly high. However, they cannot pay for this, which is why the receiving countries pay their bills.

In Switzerland, for example, asylum seekers remain in the care of the federal government for an average of around 70 days, as the “observer” writes. The federal government has never been able to determine exactly what costs arise during this time – until now.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has provided relevant data for the first time. This was made possible by a change made in 2019: Since then, the health insurer CSS has included all asylum seekers from the federal asylum centers in Switzerland in the compulsory health insurance.

The result: different from year to year. In 2020 and 2021, for example, the costs for asylum seekers were 27 percent and 23 percent higher, respectively, than for the rest of the population. In 2022, on the other hand, they were four percent lower.

In absolute figures, this means that in 2020, asylum seekers caused average costs of CHF 1,070 per person. In 2021 it was 921 francs, in 2022 814 francs. Not included are dental costs, costs for over-the-counter medications and certain non-medical therapies.

The newly published numbers split the minds. SP National Councilor Samira Marti says to the “Observer”: “We find cost differences in many groups of insured persons. Older people incur higher costs than younger people, extreme athletes more than the rest of the population.”

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And further: “Our health system is essentially based on social solidarity, which extends beyond the boundaries of age, origin and lifestyle.” Based on the figures presented, the costs have apparently been falling continuously since 2019, she emphasizes.

SVP Group President Thomas Aeschi sees the results much more critically. The reason: Asylum seekers are younger and more male than the rest of the population – and young men would otherwise cause the lowest costs. For Aeschi, one thing is certain: “You’re comparing apples with oranges here.”

The SVP National Council is therefore calling for a “slimmed-down version” of health insurance for asylum seekers. Instead of the previous “luxury variant”, the federal government should only pay for “essential medical care” in the future.

However, the professional association of Swiss doctors FMH does not believe in this requirement. “Differentiation on the basis of residence status contradicts the medical-ethical principles of our professional code,” it says. In addition, there are no luxury services in basic insurance. The supplementary insurance is there for such people.

#health #asylum #seekers #costs

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