Opposition MPs slam health premium hike; a 'cold shower', says patient group

‘The Netherlands rises again in global competitiveness ranking’

Health minister Edith Schippers has refused to comment specifically on the 10% rise in health insurance premiums announced by insurer DSW on Tuesday. DSW is traditionally the first insurance company to publish its premium plans for the following year and is said to set the pace for others to follow. Few other insurance companies come up with lower figures, the Telegraaf said. Opposition MPs have reacted angrily to the rise, which is well above the €3.50 monthly increase forecast by the health ministry and takes a monthly DSW premium to around €108. A spokesman for the ruling VVD said his party hoped the other insurance company premium hikes would be lower.  The ruling Labour party said a clear picture of the 2017 premiums is not possible until December, when the dominant players have announced their figures. Cold shower But patients' organisation Patiëntenfederatie said the announcement was a ‘cold shower’ following all the government’s claims that everyone would have more to spend next year, broadcaster NOS reported. Schippers had hoped insurers would draw on their billion euro reserves to keep this year’s rises to a minimum. In a reaction to today’s rise, she pointed out that her estimates had been too high in previous years. Expensive medicines DSW put up its fees by €3.50 last year and froze them in 2014. DSW only offers one sort of health insurance policy which allows patients to be treated by which ever health service provider they chose. The company said the price hike is necessary to cover the cost of expensive medicines, a broader basis package and wage and price rises. The big insurance companies, which offer a wider range of policies with more restrictions on choice, are expected to begin publishing their premiums for next year in November.  More >

More people have call-out contracts

‘The Netherlands rises again in global competitiveness ranking’ The number of people with a call-out or zero hours contract in the Netherlands has risen by 33% over the past five years, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday. In total, some 545,000 people have a contract without fixed hours, accounting for about 7% of the jobs on offer. Around half of them are at school or college and under the age of 25. Of the students with a call-out contract, 64% want the flexibility of variable hours. By contrast, just 35% of the 25 to 35-year-olds appreciate the flexibility and around half say they have been unable to get a full-time job with a regular contract. A quarter of the call-out contacts involve working in cafes, restaurants and elsewhere within the hospitality sector. Five years ago, the hospitality sector accounted for one in five call-out jobs.   More >

Hotels, b&bs report 7.5% more guests

‘The Netherlands rises again in global competitiveness ranking’ Despite complaints about holiday rental platforms such as Airbnb, the number of people staying in Dutch hotels and registered bed and breakfast accommodation rose 7.5% in the first six months of this year. In Amsterdam, where complaints about unfair competition from Airbnb are strongest, there was a 10% increase in hotel and b&b stays compared with the same period last year. Foreign tourists and business travellers account for around half of the stays. While the number of German guests rose 5%, there was a 10% rise in British tourists and a 17% rise in guests from the US. But there were fewer visitors from China, Brazil and Russia, national statistics office CBS said. Hotels and official b&bs booked a 5.5% rise in turnover over the first half of 2016. Hotel sector turnover has now been rising steadily since summer 2013, the CBS said.   More >

Florists see a rose-tinted future ahead

‘The Netherlands rises again in global competitiveness ranking’ More people are buying flowers and are opting for more expensive blooms and plants, according to new figures from the Dutch florists association VBW. Sales rose 5.4% in the first six months of this year, compared with the year earlier period. It is the third year in a row that sales have gone up, following years of decline at the height of the financial crisis. Almost four in 10 of the under 40s regularly buy flowers and there is significant room for growth in this sector, the organisation said. ‘In particular, green plants are totally in,’ VBW director Marco Maasse said. The internet also offers great for potential for growth, Maasse said. Some 11% of flowers sold in the Netherlands are bought online. Men currently account for slightly more purchases than women. Birthdays top the list of reasons to buy flowers, followed closely by ‘just because’.  More >

'The Netherlands is more competitive'

‘The Netherlands rises again in global competitiveness ranking’ The Netherlands is the most competitive country within the European Union, the NRC said on Tuesday, quoting the latest Global Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum. The ranking puts the Netherlands in fourth place behind Switzerland, the US and Singapore, a rise of one place over last year’s ranking, the NRC said. The ranking is not yet available on the forum’s website. Germany was in fourth place last year. The Netherlands thanks its high ranking to its healthcare, education system, efficient infrastructure, and and focus on innovation and technology, the paper quotes the report as saying.   More >