How to vote on June 9th Swiss votations: my opinion

tl;dr: no to everything.

This is a short article where I give my opinion on the upcoming votations.

Keep health insurance premiums to no more than 10% of income (Premium Relief Initiative)

In Switzerland, our mandatory health insurance is a goverment mandate. The government decides what services insurances have to provide and the insurances then choose for what price they want to provide that service. There are also severe restrictions on price adjustments based on customers (insurances are only allowed to use sex, age and locality as price factors). This means, a healthy young person will pay as much as the unhealthy-young person, and so on.

Each insurance submits their costs for the year to come to a government body who approves it based on their own criterias. 

We are quite far away from a free market system here and there is no doubt to me that this system isn't optimal at all and that there are simple ways to reduce costs:

  • Let insurances create their own insurance packages, covering what they believe to be relevant for different price points
  • Let insurances customise prices freely based on customers' health situation
  • Make it easier for customers to cancel their insurance (at the moment, you still need to send a signed document)

But of course, this would create inequality, where people with low incomes might choose a cheaper package and get less benefits. And old, overweight smokers would pay much more for their health insurance than a 25 year old yoga teacher.

But at the end of the day, that's the reality of the costs the insurance has to bear. I see no reason to hide that from the Swiss population. 

Inequality is a requirement for freedom, but somehow, people tend to forget it.

This initiative is of course ridiculous because:

  1. It doesn't solve the actual problem of rising costs.
  2. It offers no explanation of how we should pay for this.

And from an incentive structure, the more the government pays for our insurance costs, the more insurances have an incentive to increase prices, lobby and so on. Since the consumer has nothing to do with the costs anymore. 


Cost-Brake Initiative

This initiative is very similar to the previous one and even more ridiculous in that it just suggests to cap the costs that insurances are allowed to charge, decoupling the costs the insurers incur with the revenue they can make. 

This again is silly since the insurance will have only one option left to grow its revenue: lobby to convince the government to allow it to raise it's costs. 


Federal Act on a Secure Electricity Supply from Renewable Energy Sources

This initiative is the most tricky to deal with since it is super complex (the document itself is many tens of pages) and on the surface it looks great. 

What I will do here is just list the few elements from the document that I think are very bad ideas and innacceptable to make my point that we have to vote no.

Setting targets to reduce energy consumption: Reducing energy consumption by 50% in the next 25 years

From a basic physics perspective, I see no reason why we should reduce energy consumption as a society. Energy is great. If you look at all the countries in the world where you'd like to live, you'll see that they consume a lot of energy per capita, and if you look at the countries where you'd rather not like to live, the opposite is true. 

We need energy to automate work, to be more efficient, productive and grow. If certain energy sources (fossile fuels) cause issues, we need to replace those, the problem is not energy consumption in itself.


 Floating market premium system for renewable electricity

Renewable energy producers will be able to apply for this new system where they get a bonus (a "premium") for every sale, financed by the grid surcharge fund (Netzzuschlagsfonds). This fund is fed by the grid surcharge that all electricity consumers pay as part of their electricity bill.

This means simply that end consumers will pay more to support renewable energy producers. I thought people wanted to reduce costs?


Standard product based on domestic renewable energy

Electricity suppliers will have to offer a default electricity product to customers in basic supply based primarily on domestic renewable energy (renewable standard product). If they could instead import electricity from cheaper renewable sources abroad, that won't be allowed anymore. 

Once more, I don't see why we wouldn't allow the free EU market to do it's thing and support the most productive energy producers. 


To summarise:

Once more, after the 13th payment for retired people, Switzerland is once more voting on very socialist, and central-planning-ish topics. The thing is, you can't solve complex problems by ordering people to fix them. We need smart people to build efficient energy producing systems, we need smart people to develop better insurance models (or new forms of medicine, hospitals, and so on...) but we can't archive this by decree. 


All we'll achieve is to make it harder for those people to actually do what they want to do, and make it easier for lobbyist and politicians to pretend like they fixed the problem while everyone will be worse off. 


My question is this: if those initiatives are approved, what's your guess as to the real cost of healthcare per capita in Switzerland in 10 years? And what about the cost of energy in 10 years?