Direct democracy, together with “Capitalism” and “Socialism” produce the best universal health care.

The Swiss health care system is considered by many the best in the World.

The data I show here I took for a number of websites. Anyone can verify the figures.

Switzerland has more doctors for every 1000 people than most other countries, that is good. But it has almost double the number of doctors than Canada and the US, that is much better. It also has more than the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, etc.

Only 6 other countries in the World have more doctors for every 1000 people; Sweden, Austria, Denmark, the Check Republic, Greece and Lithuania.

Switzerland also has an excellent network of well-run, clean, up to date, public and private hospitals. Everyone in Switzerland can have a family doctor because there is no shortage of doctors. Patients can also choose their doctor, instead of almost begging to be accepted as patient by one…, as it happens in some “socially advanced” countries.

90% of users of the universal Swiss health care system are satisfied or fully satisfied, not bad, eh?

People also wait less in Switzerland than in any other advanced country to receive treatment.

In Switzerland 80% of the patients wait less than 4 weeks to see a specialist. 93% of patients have elective surgery in less than 4 months.

Elective surgery is any non-emergency surgery. It includes hip and knee replacement, back surgery, surgery for other medical conditions that do not immediately threaten your life.

The United Kingdom has similar figures to see a specialist. For elective surgery the waiting times are a little longer; 79% of patients have it done in less than 4 months.

In Germany 72% of patients waited less than 4 weeks to see a specialist. It is interesting than in Germany 100% of the patients have elective surgery in less than 4 months. Many would say the German system is even better than the Swiss system; they wait a little longer to see the specialist, but they wait less for the surgeon.

In the Netherlands 78% of patients see a specialist in less than 4 weeks. 95% of the patients have elective surgery in less than 4 months.

Notice now how waiting times to see a specialist grow for other advanced societies. Elective surgery times also grow, but less.

In New Zealand 59% of patients wait less than 4 weeks to see a specialist. 82% have elective surgery in less than 4 months.

In Sweden 54% have to wait less than 4 weeks to see a specialist. 78% have elective surgery in less than 4 months.

In Austria 51%, almost half, waited less than 4 weeks to see a specialist. This means that half of the patients have to wait more than 4 weeks. 82% had elective surgery in less than 4 months.

In France 51%, again almost half, also waited more than 4 weeks to see the specialist. 93% had elective surgery in less than four months.

In Norway 80% waited less than 4 weeks to see the specialist. 79% had to wait less than 4 months to have elective surgery.

The surprise may be Canada. Only 39% of the patients could see the specialist in less than 4 weeks. 75% had elective surgery in less than 4 months. These are the worse figures in the list.

You might have thought, “what about the US?”.

The US is a special case. For insured people, the figures in the US are: 76% of insured patients waited less than 4 weeks to see a specialist. 93% have elective surgery in less than 4 months. Not bad, if you have insurance.

US figures for insured patients are comparable to Switzerland and the UK. The problem is that we can not consider “waiting times” for uninsured patients. If we did the figures will be worse, but the facts of the ground for 27 million American uninsured are much worse. Uninsured people often will not use doctors or hospitals, except for emergencies.

By not have a universal health care system, in terms of waiting times overall, the US is like other countries with high GDP per capita but poorly distributed wealth; Saudi Arabia or China come to mind. A large group of people receive good health care, because they can pay for it, many other do not have health care.

In the US you if you work in a small shop, are a fisherman, owner of small business, unemployed, etc., you may not have health insurance.

If the US already provides health coverage for the vast majority of the population, 84%, it is difficult to understand how the country can not make the effort to cover the remaining 16%, those 27 million citizens.

Sometimes people say that direct democracy presents the danger of becoming the “tyranny of the majority”. At least in the case of health care, the “tyranny of the majority” is happening in a representative democracy, not in a direct democracy, in the US, not in Switzerland, where direct democracy is firmly established.

But the more interesting thing comes now; Switzerland leads the pack with universal, but private, health care. Perhaps the US should look at Switzerland because the model achieves social goals using capitalism.

The Swiss System is universal. You have to have health insurance in Switzerland because it is illegal not to have it. Every Swiss citizen and resident has to buy health insurance from one of the private insurers.

You must pay the fees for the universal basic health insurance plan. You may choose to buy supplementary insurance.

All medical issues are covered by the basic plan. Supplementary insurance will cover alternative medicine, dental expenses, hospital stay in private room, choosing the hospital to receive treatment and other “bells and whistles”.

In Switzerland you have to pay the insurance out of your own pocket. The system is financed by the users, like your house insurance or car insurance. The big difference lies in that if your income is low, the government, the taxpayers, will give you the money to pay the health insurance premiums.

In another interesting twist, Swiss law does not allow health insurers to make money on the basic health plan, only on the supplementary health plans.

Again, Switzerland shows how the noble goal of social policies can be best achieved by the intelligent use of capitalist practices. But this is not new. Swiss and German industry are generally more competitive than US, Canadian, British of French industry, particularly in high tech, high value added goods and services also by a wiser use of social policies and business principles.

They do it while paying higher wages and with a strong currency, with more and better universal social services and with low unemployment figures. They know something other advanced countries do not.

So, if you want to have in your country more doctors and less waiting to see specialists and also for elective surgery, you should push your politicians to look at Switzerland. Of course, if you had direct democracy there would be no need to push them, “us the people” would “just do it”.

Should you not have at least the same power the Swiss have to have more doctors and to shorten waiting times for health care? Let us do something about it!

Thanks for your comments.

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