Price explosion: now a consumer protection umbrella is needed!

28.09.2022 | from Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz

Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz

28.09.2022, The costs for health insurance premiums, energy and everyday goods are exploding. Households with small budgets are particularly affected. Consumer protection is therefore calling on the Federal Council to immediately install a consumer protection screen. In particular, this should reduce health and energy costs and strengthen the price monitoring authorities.

Consumer spending by private households is the mainstay of the Swiss economy. But purchasing power is rapidly declining. The escalating health and energy costs are particularly responsible for this. At the same time, consumer savings are also eroding, since they hardly earn any interest despite high inflation. Consumer protection is therefore calling on the Federal Council to set up a consumer protection umbrella immediately. This should contain the following points in particular:

Health care costs/health insurance premiums

Health insurance premiums will increase by an average of 6.6 percent in 2023, and by almost 10 percent in some cantons. This increase in costs is becoming unbearable for many households, and relief is urgently needed. Last Monday, the Council of States had it in hand to support a proposal already approved by the National Council and to increase federal funds for the premium reduction by 30 percent in the short term. This would be a simple and proven way to provide relief to those most affected by cost increases. Instead of allowing this pragmatic and urgently needed support, the Council of States postponed the decision. Consumer protection is therefore calling on the Federal Council to take responsibility and decide to increase the premium reduction by 30% by means of an emergency ordinance.

Basic tariff 500: fair basic supply and more incentives to save

electricity The electricity bill will rise significantly for most consumers in the new year - there are electricity suppliers who will double or even triple the price. Consumer protection is therefore calling on the Federal Council to launch a basic electricity tariff for everyone: each person should be able to purchase up to 500kWh of electricity per year, the price of which is based on the production costs of Swiss electricity production.

In addition, Managing Director Sara Stalder wants to eliminate misguided energy policy incentives. “Every household pays a basic fee regardless of its electricity consumption. In households with low consumption, this quickly makes up a third or half of the electricity costs; in the case of frequent consumers, on the other hand, it is less important. This means that electricity becomes cheaper with every kilowatt hour that is consumed - and energy savers lose out. This system urgently needs to be changed."

Price surveillance authorities must be able to investigate price explosions

Various price regulation authorities exist in Switzerland, in particular the Electricity Commission (ElCom) and the Price Supervisor. According to Sara Stalder, these are now particularly challenged: “The current global situation can serve as an excuse for many companies to increase consumer prices excessively. The two price monitoring bodies must now carry out their task and reduce prices in the event of abusive surcharges. » However, this also requires sufficient resources: “The Federal Council urgently needs to make more funds available to ElCom and the price monitor – the additional position at the price monitor that has already been approved is not sufficient.”

Higher interest on savings accounts

The Swiss National Bank raised the key interest rate significantly in June and September from -0.75 to 0.5%, thus ending the phase of negative interest rates. Mortgage interest rates – often the banks' most important source of income – had already risen sharply before that. Interest on savings accounts, on the other hand, remains at zero. In addition, most banks have significantly increased their fees in recent years. Consumer protection has therefore recently asked the banks to reduce fees and increase interest on savings accounts. "The Federal Council has no direct legal recourse to enforce higher interest rates, but it could certainly draw the attention of the banks to the urgent situation and ask them to act," says Sara Stalder.

Sara Stalder, Managing Director, 078 710 27 13
Alex von Hettlingen, Head of Communications, 076 412 02 99
Ivo Meli, Head of Health, 076 504 70 36
André Bähler, Head of Politics and Economics, 076 478 83 17

Note: This article was translated from German to English by an online translator.

--- END press release Price explosion: now a consumer protection umbrella is needed! ---


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