The upper house of parliament on Tuesday voted against cabinet plans to give more power to health insurance companies so they can restrict freedom of choice for patients.
The government had struck a deal with three opposition parties to support the controversial measure but, as expected, several senators from the ruling Labour party voted against it.
Ministers had attempted to persuade the dissidents to change their minds but to no avail, ANP says. They fear the change would give too much power to health insurance companies – four of which dominate 90% of the Dutch market.
Freedom of choice has always been central to the Dutch healthcare system. At the moment, health insurance companies are required by law to pick up 75% of the bill if a patient is treated by a company they do not have a contract with.
Health minister Edith Schippers wanted to abandon this principle so health insurers could develop a range of budget policies with basic coverage and no freedom of choice.
Patients would then be limited to a small group of hospitals and other specialist treatment centres. The new system was due to come into effect in 2016.
Political commentators point out that the three dissident senators will all leave the upper house of parliament next year because they have not been given a high-enough position on the PvdA’s list of candidates.
‘This is the only reason why there is not now a cabinet crisis,’ Nos correspondent Dominique van der Heyde said.
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