The chances are that your health insurance policy is part of a collective plan which you signed up to via work, a sports club or even your local council. But you could very well be paying more than you should.
Almost two-thirds of the Dutch population are insured through a collective plan – a type of insurance scheme set up for a group of people, such as company colleagues, a patient organisation or a local authority. Even nature protection groups like the Wadden Vereniging offer special health policies for members.
If you sign up for a collective agreement you are offered a seemingly attractive discount on your monthly health insurance premium. But beware! Research by comparison website Zorgwijzer.nl shows that you could actually be paying for the discount out of your own pocket.
Spokesman Koen Kuijper says there are numerous cases where an individual insurance plan is cheaper than one that is set up through a collective.
‘There are over 50,000 different collective policies out there and that means consumers are unable to get a clear picture about the range of health insurance products on offer,’ he says.
‘And that €9 discount you are being offered might well mean you have more limited access to some healthcare providers or that the actual premium was too high in the first place.’
Recently, television current affairs show Radar carried out a survey involving 26,000 consumers and found that people with a collective health insurance policy pay on average €10 more per month more than people with an individual health insurance plan.
Radar recommends that everyone with a collective health insurance plan checks their current insurance policy on price and coverage. Switching insurance policies may be worthwhile.
Comparing health insurance plans (in Dutch: zorgverzekering vergelijken) is a good way to get started.
Various political parties and government advisory groups have strongly criticised collective insurance policies as well. Some parties, like the PvdA, want to ban collective insurance policies altogether.
Health minister Bruno Bruins has said he wants to end fake discounts on health insurance policies.
Instead, he would like insurance companies to offer collective plans that differ on a healthcare-related level and not just on pricing. To further encourage this, he plans to reduce the premium discount that collective agreements give to 5%.
Kuijper also doubts whether this type of insurance should be part of our insurance scheme.
‘There is an unfair element in collective insurance,’ Kuijper says. ‘If you are not part of any group, you cannot profit from the discount. Everyone should get equal access to healthcare and basic health insurance. Fiddling with discounts for specific groups disadvantages others.’
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