Health insurers call on hospitals to close emergency departments

Health insurance companies are calling for a sharp reduction in the number of hospital accident and emergency departments because of rising healthcare costs, according to media reports on Wednesday.


‘Most hospitals have such a department. But is it right in these times that The Hague should have six accident and emergency departments and Amsterdam seven?, Pieter Hasekamp, head of the health insurers association, is quoted as saying in Trouw.
Hasekamp stressed the decision which A&E departments should close would be taken carefully, and that spread, availability and quality would be taken into account. ‘It is a complex process, because A&E is the hospital’s front door,’ he said.
Cost
The association has set aside €100m to cover the cost of the closures.
A spokeswoman for the Dutch hospital association told Trouw the closures would have ‘enormous consquences’ for patients, and that the €100m on offer from the insurers was no more than ‘a nice gesture’.
In addition, the closures would make it difficult to realise health ministry plans of keeping healthcare ‘close to the people’, she said.
Specialisation
In June, hospitals, insurers and the health ministry agreed to introduce more specialisation, so that not all hospitals offer all treatment. The closure of A&E departments is part of that agreement, Trouw says.
Meanwhile, health minister Edith Schippers told health insurers on Tuesday they should be more selective about which services they buy in and at what price.
The minister is currently working on a new policy document which aims to make the rising cost of healthcare the subject of widespread discussion – not only by politicians but ‘in every sitting room’, the Telegraaf said.