More than one million set to change health insurer in 2011

More than one million of the Dutch population of nearly 17 million will change health Insurance company in 2011, largely due to the sharp rise in premiums, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.

On average, premiums have gone up by €150 a year and a number of items, including dental treatment for 18 to 21-year-olds, contraceptive pills, anti-depressants and initial physiotherapy treatment, are no longer covered by the basic policy.
This has led to far more people than normal looking for a cheaper policy and top-up insurance, Erik Hordijk, director of insurance comparison website told the paper.
Top-up policies
In particular, internet-based policies are proving popular, he said.
In addition, ‘many people are asking if they should take out extra insurance for the dentist or physiotherapy,’ said Hordijk. ‘If you can afford to pay it yourself, then don’t. It is always cheaper to carry the risk yourself.’
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.
This has led to a lack of competition between insurers. Some 95% of the market is in the hands of four big combines: CZ, Menzis, Achmea and VGZ/Univé.
The average health insurance premium last year was €1,256 with a variation of €275 between the cheapest and most expensive.
In November, it emerged health insurance costs have risen 41% since the new system was introduced. Of that, 18% is due to increases in the basic health insurance premium and 23% because of the introduction of an own-risk payment. That will rise €5 to €170 next year and a further €40 in 2012.
Although health insurance is in the hands of private firms, the government decides what the basic policy should cover and sets the size of the own-risk payments.

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