The decision by health insurance company CZ to publish details of some of the deals it has agreed with hospitals has thrown up a large number of anomalies.
For example, treating varicose veins at the Van Weel-Bethesda hospital in Dirksland costs €555 compared with €1,832 at the Spijkenisse Medisch Centrum near Rotterdam.
And tests for sexually transmitted diseases cost €230 at the Isala clinic in Zoetermeer, more than half the €512 charged at the Admiraal de Ruyter hospital in Zeeland.
In the Dutch healthcare system, everyone has to take out private health insurance which covers a government-determined basic package of services. Health insurance companies are supposed to compete on price, by negotiating the best deals they can with healthcare providers.
CZ is one of the big four health insurers and the first to publish its fees following calls for publication by the consumers union Consumentenbond. To date it has published deals for treatments which cost close to the maximum own risk payment of €885 a year. Other deals will follow later.
Most patients are only confronted with a bill when they have to pay the own risk charge.
Patients are also invited to contact CZ to find out about hospital quality, spokeswoman Marie-José van Gardingen told broadcaster NOS. ‘The list of fees is an aid to help patients find out in advance what the bill will look like.’
The Consumentenbond and patients organisations have welcomed CZ’s decision to publish some of its prices. However, the consumers’ lobby group warns that the information is still difficult for laymen to understand and wants CZ to publish quality control figures as well.
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