Sep 29, 2014 8:17 PM GMT
Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a plan to ditch the country's all-private health insurance system and create a state-run scheme, exit polls showed.
Some 64 percent of the electorate shot down a plan pushed by left-leaning parties who say the current system is busting the budgets of ordinary residents, figures from polling agency gfs.bern showed.
Going public would have been a seismic shift for a country whose health system is often hailed abroad as a model of efficiency, but is a growing source of frustration at home because of soaring costs.
"Over the past 20 years in Switzerland, health costs have grown 80 percent and insurance premiums 125 percent," ophthalmologist Michel Matter told AFP.
"This is not possible anymore. It has to change," said Matter, who heads the Geneva Physicians Association, which backs calls to scrap the current system.
Campaigners who championed the push for a state-held insurance scheme have said it is the only way to rein in rising premiums and guarantee they are used efficiently and transparently.
Sunday's referendum came after reformers mustered more than the 100,000 signatures required to hold a popular vote, a regular feature of Switzerland's direct democracy.
The rejection of the plan by nearly two-thirds of voters is a major blow for pro-reform campaigners, given that recent polls had shown the No vote was likely to be 54 percent.