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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?

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