“For people with a very high income, there is not much difference between paying 300 or 400 francs in health premiums each month, or 600 to 700 francs,” Schnegg told RTS Swiss television this week.
He estimated that one-third of Switzerland's population can afford to pay the higher premiums, while the remaining two-thirds would pay less.
“This would allow a better distribution of the burden on all the citizens of our country. For some families, this burden has become unsustainable”, he said.
On average, basic health insurance costs about 300 francs a month per adult, but it could be more depending on the co-pay deductible, the age of the person, and the canton of residence.
Health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland, but the cost of premiums has been climbing every year; in 2020, it increased by 2 percent.
A study conducted last year by Santésuisse, an association of Swiss health insurers, found that people in Switzerland are collectively overpaying their health insurance premiums by more than 1 billion francs, especially when compared to their European neighbours.
While Schnegg proposed to remedy the situation by raising premiums paid by the wealthiest, the Social Democrat party has collected enough signatures to force a national vote on the issue. The date for such a vote has not been set yet.
When they do go to the polls, the Swiss will have to decide on whether to cap health insurance premiums at 10 percent of a household's income, versus 14 percent currently.
The additional costs resulting from lower premiums should be compensated by federal and cantonal authorities, Social Democrats say.