With all of the changes taking place in our health care system, it's illuminating to look overseas for answers as to how other developed countries manage their own health care programs. Switzerland is a prime example of a system very similar to that being implemented through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — and the elements that differentiate the Swiss system from PPACA might point to where we're headed.

Insurance coverage in Switzerland is privatized and mandatory for all Swiss citizens, who can choose between nearly 100 different private plans. The Swiss Federal Law on Compulsory Health Care, which dictates what must be covered, regulates the plans. Because there are so many to choose from, the prices for basic health insurance are affordable, and those who can't afford to buy health insurance because of low wages or unemployment receive subsidies they can use. About 99.5 percent of the Swiss population is insured.

Health insurance companies in Switzerland aren't permitted to deny coverage based on age or pre-existing medical conditions — and they're also not allowed to make a profit from sales of the basic, compulsory plans offered to everyone. Health insurers can, however, offer supplementary insurance plans, which provide perks for those who choose to pay more for one of these supplementary plans.

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