Health insurers under attack over hospital choices, expensive drugs

doctor euros healthcare costDutch health insurance companies came under sustained attack in the weekend papers amid mounting concern people are not aware of the implications of taking out cheap policies.

The Financieele Dagblad reported on Saturday that hospitals are considering refusing patients because they need expensive medicines which insurers refuse to pay for.

Hospitals, pharmacies and health insurers are embroiled in a bitter battle about who should pay the bill for new expensive medicines, the paper says.

Two years ago the government decided expensive medicines should be distributed via hospital pharmacies but that means hospital drugs bills are now being overspent.

Marcel Levi, chairman of Amsterdam’s teaching hospital, told the paper that its doctors have not yet told patients they can not be treated because they have the wrong insurance company. ‘But that time is coming,’ he said.

Meanwhile, a number of Dutch hospitals took out page adverts in Saturday’s newspapers calling on people to work together to make sure they retain good and affordable healthcare in their region.

In particular, the advert called on people to send a message to ‘healthcare decision makers’ that they consider local care to be important.

Budget healthcare policies only cover a limited number of hospitals and other providers and patients who want to use a different healthcare provider can end up footing up to 50% of the bill themselves.


Last week, for example, the WestfriesGasthuis hospital in Hoorn mounted a publicity campaign warning patients they could not use its services if they took out a budget policy.

Physiotherapists are also warning patients that they might not be properly covered for treatment if they opt for a budget policy with extra restrictions.

The Telegraaf carried out an online poll in which 84% of respondents said they wanted a return to the old ziekenfonds system. Prior to 2006, everyone on a low salary or social security benefits was covered by a tax-funded ‘sickness fund’ which offered universal coverage.

Respondents in the Telegraaf survey said they saw no benefits in competition between health insurers which the new system is supposed to create.

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