Federal Office for Public Health (BAG)

The Federal Office for Public Health has been responsible for overseeing health, accident and military insurance since 2004. This increase in responsibilities represented a major turning point for the office. Its established competencies in health policy were suddenly expanded by important social security prerogatives.

The Federal Office for Public Health (BAG) has been responsible for healthaccident and military insurance since 2004. The office’s duties primarily encompass supervisory functions and the preparation of legislation, in accordance with the decentralized nature of this area of insurance. The Federal Social Insurance Office (BSV) had previously taken a leading role in this area since as early as the introduction of health and accident insurance in 1912.

Until the 2004 reform, health and medical policy were the core activities of the BAG. The Federal Health Office – as the BAG was called until 1977 – was in charge of implementing epidemic law, the food standards police, as well as overseeing medical doctors' matriculation and exams upon its founding in 1893. It was also responsible for international conventions, for example on protection against cholera. Apart from the period between 1914 and 1921 when the office moved to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, the BAG has been under the purview of the Federal Department of Home Affairs since its foundation. The duties incumbent on the BAG have steadily increased over the course of the 20th century, including responsibility for the tuberculosis legislation (federal act of 1928) or AIDS prevention in more recent times. After the World Health Organization was founded in 1948, the number of international conferences as well as multilateral and bilateral agreements managed by the BAG has risen sharply. Recently, medical technological progress in particular has led to a greater need for regulation, such as in fertilization treatment and transplant medicine, or in health promotion.

At the time of the 1912 introduction of health and accident insurance, the main concern was to ensure that the administration had the necessary actuarial mathematics experts on hand. There were therefore considerations to incorporate social insurance issues into the Federal Insurance Office (later renamed the Federal Office for Private Insurance), but not the Federal Office for Public Health. In view of the future expansion of social insurance, the Federal Council and Parliament ultimately set up the Federal Social Insurance Office (BSV) as an independent agency. The BSV was assigned to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, where it remained until 1955. Conversely, during the reorganization of the BSV and the BAG in 2004, initiated by federal councillor Pascal Couchepin, the intention was to pool expertise and competencies in the health sector within one dedicated administration. Today (2013), the BAG employs 615 staff (351 women and 264 men), of which one hundred work in the health and accident insurance department.

> Health insurance in numbers

Literatur / Bibliographie / Bibliografia / References: Website des Bundesamts für Gesundheit: www.bag.admin.ch.