Health minister Edith Schippers has radically overhauled her plans to limit the freedom of choice for patients with budget health insurance packages, the Volkskrant says on Friday.
The minister has scrapped plans to allow health insurers to offer cheap ‘no choice’ policies but will give insurers the freedom to give discounts to patients who opt for pre-selected doctors and specialists.
This, the minister believes, will encourage patients to go to doctors regarded as good by insurers, the Volkskrant says. The paper bases its claims on sources close to the cabinet.
Schippers also plans to introduce more quality checks, particularly for mental healthcare services, the Volkskrant says. Insurers currently have to pay around 75% of all healthcare bills but will not have to pay for services provided by healthcare companies which fail the checks.
Last year, the cabinet’s plan to limit freedom of choice was halted in the upper house of parliament when three Labour senators voted against it. They said the minister’s proposals would give too much power to health insurance companies.
The minister then threatened to reintroduce the legislation in a revised form and if senators again rejected it, said she would introduce the measure by bypassing parliament altogether. That threat infuriated opposition parties which had supported the healthcare reforms.
The aim of the original measure was to cut healthcare spending by some €1bn a year as part of a package of reforms agreed with hospitals, patients and healthcare providers last year.
A spokesman for Schippers declined to comment on the reports of a radical rethink, saying it would be premature. He emphasised the minister’s aim is to make savings. ‘It is about the aim, not the method,’ he told the Volkskrant.
MPs have now asked the minister to react to the media claims by Tuesday afternoon at the latest.
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