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Swiss Government Makes Sure Disabled Supported For Life

Switzerland's federal disability insurance makes the road a little smoother for parents of disabled children facing a tough path ahead.

If a family has an autistic child, for example, the Swiss government takes care of education, behavioral therapy, a cleaning service and household help for the family, as well as extras like disposable diapers if a child might still need. But the greatest blessing, according to parents profiled by NPR, is the fact that these children will be taken care of once their parents are no longer alive or able.

Conversely, circumstances for families dealing with disabilities in America vary. Massachusetts, for example, budgets $1.3 billion for the disabled, or $40,600 per person, not including federal benefits. Still, parents must cover needs not provided, and often worry that their children could be subject to abusive conditions if left on their own. In Switzerland the disabled and their families receive more government services than their American counterparts, but only spend $37,000. Even so, the program has been under-funded for some time, thus operating under a deficit.

Despite the fact that more money is going out than coming in, the Swiss government plans to rework the program to bring it back into the black, while maintaining its commitment to a decent life for all citizens. Should comprehensive care for the disabled be a priority for all governments, regardless of budget concerns?


Join The Conversation
Roarman Roarman 8 years
UnDave, the whole point of the story is that these individuals can't take care of themselves, they are disabled. And in the case of Massachusetts, it stops providing assistance to families with disable children at the age of 24. We spend the most on healthcare per citizen in this country, yet we have so many uninsured and are less healthy than I think 34 other nations, we are obviously doing something wrong. Where is all of this money going?
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Was I insulting (serious)? I wasn't meaning to be.
stephley stephley 8 years
Ooh Leene, don't be too self-critical - you didn't sound not mature and you brought an important perspective.
Leene Leene 8 years
I thank you too, for reading my comment. After re-reading it... I didn't sound very mature. I should stay more objective. But I guess my point came through.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Leene - I just want to point out that I don't believe we should let these children suffer. I was merely waying that I don't believe it's the governments responsibility to take care of us should we become disabled.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Leene thank you for your opinion.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
"I come from Finland and as you must know, the nordic countries typically have high taxes so we can provide social security to all. I think Swiss government is doing good job making sure people who can't help themselves are taken care of." I completely agree Leene. I was just in Finland by the way. I really enjoyed myself!
Leene Leene 8 years
I'm sorry that I'm late on this. I come from Finland and as you must know, the nordic countries typically have high taxes so we can provide social security to all. I think Swiss government is doing good job making sure people who can't help themselves are taken care of. UnDave, I think it's horrible of you to say that kids with disabilities should learn from their parents mistakes. I do think you have a point, kids generally should learn from parents mistakes and stand on their on feet. People with disabilities are whole different thing. They can't help themselves. I'm gonna get a little side-tracked now.. My friend got depressed at the age of 16. Her parents were big part of causing all the sorrow in her young life. She got free therapy from the government, her parents would/could not have been paid therapy in private healthcare. My friend is now in much better state mentally. She is not a danger to those around her anymore. UnDave, I think that is what government should do to protect us. Preventing bad things. You say protecting is making sure that neighbor doesn't beat you and steal your lunch money. I sincerely hope your loved ones remain safe from all the lunatics of this world. But if your friend would get shot in a school-shooting, do you think you could start thinking that maybe, just maybe, government should have given the shooter free therapy?
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Oh, I've never heard of "people first language." I will try to remember.
jennitee jennitee 8 years
I would like to point out that people with disabilities prefer to be called just that- person with disabilities, not disabled people. It's called people first language, and this post does not use it. I know some people hate trying to be politically correct, but sorry, I work with people with disabilities and am able to see that they are more than just the labels they're assigned.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Right. Obviously. Sorry you felt "extremely insulted."
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
With the way DC smells during the summer, I'd put ALL my money into the sewer system and public trash pick up :)
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
UnDave, I'm all for personal responsibility, but we're talking about disabled kids here. I think that the point is that they can't take care of themselves - not for lack of trying but just by nature of what it means to be disabled. What purpose does it serve to let a child suffer because his parents were fuck ups who didn't plan for their deaths properly? Most people can ultimately fend for themselves, but these kids can't. I'm not sure what the right way to handle the situation is, but to assert that these kids need to learn a lesson from their parents is nonsensical in this case.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Obviously. I don't think anyone is really advocating for it.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Well, that's your opinion, not mine. And I don't think it would be even roughly the same. Plus, it would be chaotic with tax-dollar funding changing every year based on the whims of public opinion.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Because if anyone actually thought that if citizens were able to directly allocate where each individual tax dollar went and all spending would remain exactly the same, that person would be pretty stupid.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
"Actually, I am extremely insulted that you would imply that I am that stupid." Hunh? How did I imply that you're stupid? The conversation veered into citizens deciding how their tax dollars would be spent. I think it would be a bad idea, and specifically I don't think government spending would be roughly the same.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Torg, I meant that it would even out as far as typically liberal and typically conservative causes; I obviously am not stupid enough to believe that each dollar would be spent in the same way. Actually, I am extremely insulted that you would imply that I am that stupid.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
As always I agree with Jude, HF and Stephley. Yay for scary liberals!
stephley stephley 8 years
Some lobbyists are misunderstood, many are not. Some try to work with the system for the good of the group, others try to manipulate the system for the benefit of a few.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
"I'm pretty sure if we all get to pick where our tax dollars went, the spending wouldn't differ all that much." As fun as it is to daydream about what to spend taxes on, it would not be a good idea, and it would not all even out. Who would choose for their taxes to go to something unsexy like office supplies for the IRS? Or sewers? This is the same reason I am in favor of government services over private charities. I don't want to rely on the public at large to distribute aid for different diseases, because leukemia, for example, might garner a larger share of donations than asthma, regardless of the rate of disease.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Agreed, lil - lobbyists work for a variety of organizations and companies, not just big business.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
I agree, lobbyists are really misunderstood.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
UnDave, I have been to places where the goverment is unable to provide a "safety net" of social services to the vast majority of the population and the only recourse for the people is to turn to charity organizations. I have to say, many services don't get to the people who most need them in those situations. Many times, the charity organizations are completely overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the demands, since they are relying on donations. I know you will say that we have the same problem with the government providing these services, and I do agree to a point. But, like steph says, isn't ensuring that a person who is disabled and may not be able to productively provide for themselves part of the "life" part of your statement above?
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
No, that's providing for them. Protecting them is making sure their neighbor doesn't beat them up for their lunch money.
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