Health insurance company DSW has kicked off the annual premium war by announcing plans to cut its fee for a basic health insurance package by €90 to €1,140 next year.
DSW is traditionally the first health insurance group to publish its fees ahead of the end-of-year window during which people can shop around for a new provider.
The cut takes the DSW fee to €95 a month, plus the statutory €360 own risk element. By adding a further €500 voluntary own risk charge – a move which is increasing in popularity – the basic fee is €72 a month.
The health ministry said earlier this month it expects basic premiums can go down by €24 a year to an average of around €1,226.
Last year DSW froze its premium. Other insurance companies either froze or cut their premiums by a few cents, despite a €120 rise in the own risk payment.
Both market leader Achmea and competitor Menzis dampened expectations of a reduction, despite health minister Edith Schippers’ statement that higher profits should lead to lower premiums.
Health insurers booked combined profits of €1.4bn last year, double their 2011 earnings.
Dutch health insurance is made up of a basic package, determined by the government, and top-up policies.
Since the insurance system was reformed in 2006, some 3% to 4% of people swap insurer during the change-over window at the end of the year.
Some 95% of the market is in the hands of four big combines: CZ, Menzis, Achmea and VGZ/Univé.