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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Establishment of Regional Medical Services to help determine disability benefit entitlement

Country of implementation
General short description of the innovation
Prior to 2005, Switzerland relied heavily on general practitioners? medical assessment to determine entitlement to disability benefits. Disability offices themselves had only limited medical expertise. Yet, in a context marked by the rapid and steady rise of disability benefit caseloads, GP?s proximity with patients and their lack of knowledge in the specificities of the disability insurance scheme became increasingly seen as two factors contributing to the rise of disability benefit caseloads / / In 2005 (as part of the 4th revision of the law on disability insurance), the introduction of Regional Medical Services as medical competence centers for the disability insurance scheme therefore aimed to expand medical expertise available within disability insurance, reduce GPs? room for maneuver, and provide disability offices with neutral medical support to verify GP?s medical assessments and improve the overall quality and homogeneity of work incapacity assessments. / / In 2005, 10 Regional Medical Services were established and employed about 230 full-time equivalent employees. /
Target group
Policy Field
  • social
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
Centers established in 2005
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: structural
  • Budgets: about 20 mios CHF ? 16,45 million Euros - a year
  • Number of intended beneficiaries: about 20?000 new recipients of disability pensions each year
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The objective with the introduction of Regional Medical Services was to provide neutral and more rapid medical assessments in the determination of disability benefit entitlement, so as to reduce the duration of procedures and the number of new recipients of disability pensions.
Nature of the innovation-short-term perspective
Type of innovation
  • new form of policy implementation/delivery
New outputs
  • benefit eligibility (introduction of a neutral support for assessing work incapacity and disability benefit eligibility)
  • governance (introduction of new regional institution in disability insurance)
Intended target group
New disability benefit claimants
Working age population
  • main source of income: social protection (disability benefits)
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • agency or national social insurance body (Cantonal disability offices, Regional Medical Services)
  • central state
Clarification of the role of various actors
Cantonal disability offices and Regional Medical Service as implementation actors, while policy-making was endorsed by the central state.
Intended output
  • benefit eligibility (provision of neutral, homogeneous and better-quality work incapacity assessments in the determination of disability benefit eligibility)
  • governance (introduction of a new regional institution involved in disability insurance)
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