Country comparison report: Interesting facts on medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Helsana and the German health insurance provider Barmer have conducted a comparison of the Swiss and German healthcare systems during the pandemic. Both the Swiss and German healthcare systems stood up to the test of the pandemic. Treatments were conducted depending on their urgency – the vast majority of them at a later date as part of the backlog.

Using selected care examples, Helsana and German health insurance provider Barmer found in recent analyses for 2020 and 2021 that there was no widespread underprovision during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The key findings

  • Orders issued by public authorities to reduce non-urgent medical interventions were adhered to in both the German and Swiss healthcare systems.
  • This led to a marked decrease in knee replacement implants in both countries during the first pandemic wave. In both countries, almost ten per cent fewer knee replacement operations were carried out than the year before.
  • During the pandemic, there were indications that women of the recommended age between 50 and 69 in both countries were slightly more reticent when it came to undergoing a mammogram than they had been in previous years.
  • The heated debate surrounding the issue of vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to have had much of an impact on parents’ willingness to have their children vaccinated in either country. In fact, a slight increase was observed in the number of infants receiving the recommended basic vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella.

Following the publication of an initial report on the subject of “Minimum hospital volumes” last year, this report is the second publication by Barmer and Helsana. Both reports have the overriding aim of creating transparency regarding care provision in both healthcare systems, highlighting differences and using this insight to provide impetus for optimising quality and improving the cost-effectiveness of the individual systems.

The report is available in German.

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