The Federal Council adopted an amendment to the Federal Ordinance on the Oversight of Social Health Insurance (KVAV), effective 1 June 2021, which makes it easier for health insurers to resort to voluntary reductions in reserves. The minimum threshold from which a voluntary reduction in reserves is permitted has been lowered. Originally, insurers were required to have reserves exceeding 150% of the minimum amount stipulated in the ordinance. The revision lowers this limit to a minimum level of 100%.
As a responsible, security-conscious insurer, CSS builds up reserves to ensure its solvency. The financial buffer is there to cushion unforeseen additional costs (e.g. vaccination costs) and to keep the premium burden as low as possible for insured persons. CSS does not believe the accumulation of unnecessary reserves to be expedient. Ultimately, the reserves belong to the insured persons. The thrust of the KVAV revision generally corresponds to CSS's position that premiums should be calculated as tightly as possible and ultimately not result in excessively high reserves. Despite calculating premiums tightly, CSS Kranken-Versicherung AG's solvency ratio has climbed steadily in recent years. That is why CSS is reducing its reserves in 2022 by giving a total of CHF 90 million to its insured persons in the form of repayments.
Various procedural requests that call for the reduction of reserves to be increased even further are currently being debated in Parliament. Unwarranted political pressure threatens the stability and quality of healthcare in Switzerland. If premiums were not adjusted in line with costs at the right time, the missing amounts would have to be compensated by significant premium rises in the following year, as has happened in the past. Scenarios of this kind must be avoided.
CSS is in favour of a reduction in reserves that takes place on a voluntary basis and respects the entrepreneurial freedom of health insurers. Any compulsory or excessive reduction in reserves, on the other hand, would jeopardise their financial stability, especially during a pandemic that has brought many uncertainties and unforeseeable fluctuations in solvency.