Healthcare insurance war costs €600m

Holland’s health insurers lost a combined €600m on their health insurance policies last year, according to calculations from the Dutch central bank. Most of the losses – €564.9m – were booked on the basic health insurance package. This is well above earlier forecasts. Top-up policies generated a loss of €31m.

The losses are due to intense competition in the sector following the shake-up in the healthcare insurance system at the beginning of 2006. Companies reduced standard policy prices to the bone in an effort to attract new clients. Some pumped huge sums into advertising campaigns.
The government decides what treatment must be included in the basic healthcare package, meaning competition is really only possible on price. Insurers have a free reign to determine what to cover in top-up policies.
Premiums rose across the board this year but one insurer has already announced it will slash provisions in its top up policies because of ‘overconsumption’.

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