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Choose a different hospital and pay the bill yourself: minister

Monday 26 March 2012

Patients who want to be treated by a doctor or at a hospital which has no contract with their insurance company will have to pay at least part of the bill themselves, health minister Edith Schippers says in Monday's Trouw.

At the moment patients are covered by their insurance if they decide to be treated in a hospital without a contract with their insurer. But that is undermining the healthcare system, the minister told the paper.

Insurance companies should no longer be forced to pay if their clients opt for a different hospital and this will keep costs down, the minister said. She is due to send a briefing on the issue to MPs later on Monday.


Schippers denied this will undermine the right of patients to choose their own doctor. People who want this option can take out a more expensive health insurance policy which allows them to be treated where they like, she said.

However, insurance companies will have to make it clear in their policies which hospitals and other healthcare providers they have contracts with. This way people can chose a policy which covers them for their favourite hospital, Schippers told the paper.

Negotiations between health insurers and hospitals on new treatment contracts are due to be completed before April 1. Insurance giant Achmea said in February some hospitals have asked for 20% increase in their budgets, but the government said last year any increase should be limited to 2.5%.

© DutchNews.nl

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Readers' comments (10)

"can take out a more expensive health insurance policy"

your policies are already heavily overpriced compared to other civilized countries (e.g., canada or the usa)

you may keep squeezing more outta your ppl but the whole ship is sinking

By dork | March 26, 2012 8:44 AM

This could keep costs down but the question is for whom? Insurers, hospitals or patients. It will also leave the patient with no choice but to go to the hospitals that have a contract with the insurer which means that it will limit the choice and the possibility of having a second opinion.
I think they should rather think about a way to minimize the waiting period before you can get a specialist to have a look at you not to be treated by paracetamol. After all the dutch people pay a lot each year for something people get for free in other EU countries.

By Justin | March 26, 2012 8:44 AM

This will allow the insurers to set demands on, or bargain for, the quality of care in hospitals. Another possibility is to close contracts with the cheapest (read: less reliable) hospitals. The idea can be extended to hospitals outside of the Netherlands.

By Husserl | March 26, 2012 8:51 AM

Welcome to two tiered healthcare Holland. One for the rich and one for the poor.

By Robert | March 26, 2012 8:58 AM

This is so very sad to watch - the precise same exact thing happened in the USA about 15 years ago, with HMO's, and with a lot of complaints about people being forced to go to health care 'professionals' that they did not know or trust. These complaints turned out to be quite valid in the United States, with lots of very negative consequences. Now the Netherlands simply copies this failing system? I do not understand. I do not understand.

By Bill | March 26, 2012 11:00 AM

This one hospital rule should be made illegal. Freedom of choice is very important. Else we will all end up in the cheapest hospital that could kill you from cost cutting measures, lack of training, etc. Which in turn makes the insurance company better off. This is getting out of hand.

By Expat in Holland | March 26, 2012 11:33 AM

This is a very frightening development, especially for someone with chronic conditions. It takes a lot of work to find appropriate doctors and hospitals, and also a lot of work to to negotiate the ins-and-outs of health insurers. In many cases, multiple doctors and hospitals are used, depending on the specific medical situation.

Health insurers will choose the cheapest doctors/hospitals as possible. This will drastically limit patient choice, unless you can pay a lot extra. I guess egalitarianism is totally dead in The Netherlands.

By Quest | March 26, 2012 12:44 PM

So much for the Dutch national health service. In other words, if you have the money you can get treatment. If you have money, you can get a decent education. If you have money, you can arrange child care. If you have money, you can arrange for the care of your elderly, infirm or handicapped relatives.
Next thing you know, they'll tie the right to vote to a minimum earning level.
What larks!

By Garry | March 26, 2012 3:27 PM

Some hospitals have far better reputations than others for treating many conditions. Many family, and hospital Doctors openly tell patients this. It is well known that some hospitals have better resources and more skilled staff for certain conditions. It is far cheaper in the long run for patients to get the best treatment possible, as early as possible, rather than offering reduced care options that impact on the patients suffering, quality of life, and on the overall economy longer term.

By Gerard | March 26, 2012 3:30 PM

scary will we also soon have the scenario of maybe having an accident, but before we are helped being asked which insurance company we have and sign on the dotted line to make sure whatever which way the hospital bill is paid.
There will be a 2 tiered system for those who can pay and cannot pay.
The american system comes to mind!

By jenny | March 26, 2012 5:02 PM

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