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Health Policy. 2017 Jun;121(6):575-581. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2017.04.004. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

Popular initiatives in 2014-2016 call for the introduction of mandatory dental care insurance in Switzerland: The contrasting positions at stake.

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Department of Economics and Business Studies, University of Genoa, Via Vivaldi 5, 16126, Genoa, Italy. Electronic address:
Department of Political Science, University of Genoa, Piazza Emanuele Brignole, 16125, Genoa, Italy.
Department of Economics and Business Studies, University of Genoa, Via Vivaldi 5, 16126, Genoa, Italy.
Division of Cariology and Endodontology, University Clinic of Dental Medicine (CUMD), University of Geneva, Switzerland.


Switzerland's mandatory health insurance system provides coverage for a standard benefits package for all residents. However, adult dental care is covered only in case of accidents and inevitable dental illnesses, while routine dental care is almost completely financed out-of-pocket. In general, unmet health needs in Switzerland are low, but unmet dental needs are significant, when compared with other countries in Europe. Recent popular initiatives in Switzerland have aimed to introduce a mandatory insurance model for dental care through a mandatory contribution of 1% of gross salaries toward dental care insurance. In three cantons, the proposals have collected the required number of signatures and a public referendum is expected to be held in 2017/2018. If implemented, the insurance system is expected to have a significant impact on the dental profession, dental care demand, and the provision of dental services. The contrasting positions of stakeholders for and against the reform reflect a rare situation in which dental care policy issues are being widely discussed at all levels. However, such a discussion is of crucial relevance not only for Switzerland, but also for the whole of Europe, which has significant levels of unmet needs for dental care, especially among vulnerable and deprived individuals, and new solutions to expand dental care coverage are required.


Dental care; Dental care costs; Dental care system reforms; Mandatory dental insurance; Swiss healthcare system; Unmet dental needs

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