Do Asylum Seekers Consume More Health Care Resources? Some Evidence from Switzerland

Alexander Bischoff*, 1, 5, Kris Denhaerynck1, Martin Schneider2, Edouard Battegay3, Pedram Sendi4
1 Institute of Nursing Science, University of Basel, Bernoullistrasse 28, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
2 Department of Geriatrics and Rehabilitation, Geneva University Hospitals, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland
3 Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin (Division of Internal Medicine), UniversitätsSpital Zürich (University Hospital Zürich), Rämistrasse 100, 8091 Zürich, Switzerland
4 Division of Infectious Diseases and Institute for Clinical Epidemiology Biostatistics, Basel University Hospital, Petersgraben 4, 4031 Basel, Switzerland
5 Division of International and Humanitarian Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland

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© Bischoff et al.;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institute of Nursing Science,University of Basel, Bernoullistrasse 28,4056 Basel, Switzerland Tel: +41/ 61/ 267 09 54; Fax: +41/ 61/ 267 09 55; E-mail:


It has been argued that asylum seekers (AS) consume more health care resources than the local Swiss population. In this study we compare the health care costs of a group of AS who attended an outpatient clinic (OPC) at the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, between 2000 and 2003 with a control group of local patients attending the same OPC. Using data routinely collected by the hospital finance department, we measured the monthly health care costs of all the AS at the OPC. The mean costs of health care for the AS were lower than those of the local outpatients. These differences remain significant in multiple analyses controlling for sex and screening in the younger age groups, but not in the older age group. Our study did not confirm the assumption that AS consume more health care resources. Our results suggest that younger and middle aged AS may consume fewer health care resources than the general population.

Keywords: Asylum seekers, refugees, health care costs, disparities, starch.