Hunger strike

Healthcare in Switzerland now costs in excess of US$11,000 per person per annum, making it the world’s most expensive. Under the LAMal, the legislation covering healthcare and healthcare insurance, insurance is mandatory, and the poorest are subsidised by the canton in which they live. 

Except that there is a gap between the law and the practice.

I fall into the category of those who are subsidised, while I build the business of HRV Health, created with the purpose of reducing the cost of healthcare in Switzerland.

It took almost three years of paying health insurance premiums before the subsidies finally kicked in, and even then, I am still waiting for the subsidies for 2018 – now five years ago.

Each visit to the administrative offices has the same pattern. It’s a bit like Groundhog Day.

There were two visits in 2021, and another two in 2022. After my visit on 18 February 2022, I received a notice in July 2022, requesting that I submit my policy for 2018.

I duly delivered policy on 4 July 2022, and was informed that everything was in order and that it may take a ‘little’ while. So I waited a ‘little’ while and visited them again on 14 February 2023 (seven months later) and was told that they did not have an application form for 2018. That was nonsense. They had requested the policy for 2018 in July the previous year. No point in arguing. So we duly filled in the forms again, and I was told it would take a couple of weeks, again.

On each visit, they say the same thing: they do not have a tax return for 2017. I tell them, I was not here in 2017. They say where were you. I say: Vietnam.

Of course since that visit in February, nothing has happened, so I went to visit them again on 13 April 2023. Again the same exchange: where were you in 2017. Vietnam. It will take a couple of weeks.

That’s when I said that this time is different. A couple of weeks is the beginning of May. If I have not received payment by then, I intend to start a hunger strike. And I will.

I have written to the Mayor of the community where I live about this issue. No response.

I have written to the members of Switzerland’s Federal Parliament about the cost of healthcare in this country. Twenty five of them deleted it unread. You can see who they are here.

I received a reply from the National Council president Martin Candinas to contact the Federal Office of Public Health, which I duly did on 15 February 2023. No response.

Given the glacial pace at which things happen at the AVS office that is responsible for handling the subsidies, there is little doubt that I will starve before anything gets sorted out.

When that happens, please don’t send flowers. Just forward the link of this post to everyone you know. Make sure that in this election year, they understand that this is a democracy, and that everyone matters.

Update: Saturday, April 29, 2023

A letter from the AVS (the administrative offices) arrived this morning confirming that the payment for the 2018 subsidy has been processed. The hunger strike has been called off.

Thanks to everyone for their support.