Letter to the Swiss Federal Parliament

I have regularly expressed my concerns over the unsustainable rise in the cost of health insurance in Switzerland. One of my first articles was about Switzerland’s healthcare problem. So I wrote a letter to our members of parliament. Each letter was personally addressed to the recipient. This is what it said:

The cost of health insurance in Switzerland

On my return to Switzerland almost five years ago, I was warned that health insurance had become prohibitively expensive. It was, so I subscribed to the least expensive insurance at CHF 230 per month. Now that same insurance costs CHF 312. In the entire time I have not made a single claim.

The cost of healthcare in Switzerland is on the verge of becoming the world’s most expensive, very close to that of the United States, measured on a per capita basis, which for people paying for it, is the most realistic metric.

There is little question that this is a problem. Whenever I raise the subject, everyone agrees. Even the FOPH acknowledges this in their stated objectives. 

Three years ago I started working on a solution, and it works.

This is multifaceted challenge. The LAMal which was intended to address the problems of health insurance in our country created a new one. 

Looking at the financial statements of the health insurers, one sees that they have become financial institutions first, and health insurers second. As a financial institution the increase of the asset base is a primary objective, and with that focus, lowered premiums is undesirable.

Another part of the problem is the approach that many people adopt towards their health. They look to treatment rather than prevention. And why not. If they are paying astronomical premiums, why not live life to the full, and get the healthcare when it’s needed. 

But that’s unsustainable. It’s also inequitable. The people who look after their health get absolutely no financial benefit from their effort. They pay the same premiums as those whose lifestyle makes them a far greater risk.

Another challenge has been quantifying that risk. It is less complicated than it seems. Resting pulse rate is an excellent measure, and early in 2020, I met with my health insurer and proposed this as a solution. They have their own ideas, and as a policy holder and student of incentives have observed their solution with interest. I am not surprised at the geometric increase in my premiums.

There is an even better measure of health than resting heart rate: heart rate variability or HRV. It is a technology that the space agencies were using before man landed on the moon. 

HRV is the measure of change in the gap between each heart beat. At a steady pulse rate of 60 beats per minute, one would think that the gap between each beat would be 1 second, or 1,000 milliseconds. But it’s not. The gap varies, and the greater the variation, the more healthy the person – unless they have a heart condition.

Now you may have heard of HRV. Many of the wearable devices boast that they measure HRV, and indeed they try. But HRV is measured in milliseconds and using pulse rather than ECG does not provide the necessary degree of accuracy for reliable HRV metrics. That misunderstanding is another reason why adoption of the technology has been slow. People who have taken HRV readings on their watches have found the results to be unreliable. No surprise.

I founded a company, HRV Health AG, with the primary objective of solving the health insurance problem in Switzerland. We use highly accurate commercial heart monitors to take the reading that allow our users to take readings every day, and they have proven highly effective. In one instance detecting the heart condition of a user who had no inkling that he was unwell. You can read his testimonial on the HRV Health website at: https://hrvhealth.org/index.php#tabs-9

The Polar heart rate monitors that we use have been independently proven to be within 1% accuracy of the equipment used in hospitals.

The solution to the cost of health insurance is to reduce the risk, and that requires the cooperation of the people. You know how difficult that can be. 

Of course, money changes the equation, and that is where the solution lies. If people who have a lower risk pay lower premiums, then everyone has an incentive to lower the risk. At present the LAMal is a bit of an obstacle to that solution, but not an insurmountable one. 

Now that we are able to quantify the risk, there is no reason not to set what people pay according to that risk.

To succeed, this solution requires a force who is controlling the special interest groups who benefit from the high cost of health care on our country. That is why I am appealing to you.

Initially, I would like to prove to you that the technology works. I am more than willing to give you a demonstration that proves how effective it is, by giving a demonstration to you and any of your colleagues who are interested.

I look forward to meeting you, and discussing this subject in more detail.

Yours sincerely,

Roy R Dalle Vedove

Founder HRV Health AG

These are the members of parliament who did not even bother to read the letter:

First nameLast nameTel #Email addressParty
PhilippeNantermod+41 24 475 70 60philippe.nantermod@parl.chRL
BeatRieder+41 27 923 00 00beat.rieder@parl.chM-E
PriskaSeiler Grafpriska.seiler@parl.chS

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