Sunday 26 September 2021

Dutch healthcare system needs to focus on what works, agencies say

Overall insurance costs have fallen since 1995.

The current Dutch healthcare system threatens to become too expensive to maintain and the emphasis should switch to proven treatment and on promoting better health, according to new recommendations drawn up by Dutch healthcare council NZA and the goverment’s health institute ZN.

In particular, there should be ‘an end to the idea’ that every possible treatment should be covered by insurance, the organisations say. ‘If we do not intervene, the cost of the healthcare system will double in 20 years…more and more taxpayers money is going into healthcare and healthcare insurance premiums are rising.’

The agencies say that public money should no longer be used to pay for care that is not effective or is unnecessary.

‘These recommendations should be seen as a call to everyone involved in healthcare to show proper responsibility,’ they say. ‘We are not just thinking about care providers, insurers, patients associations and government but about all 17 million citizens. They have to understand that they do not have the automatic right to every type of healthcare.’

Instead, the agencies argue, more effort should be paid to promoting good health and preventing disease. Healthcare, they say, has become too focused on making money rather than ensuring treatment is effective and affordable.

The ZN, which is charged with assessing the contents of the basic health insurance package, said in October it would be assessing treatments to determine what is and what is not effective.

ZN chairman Sjaak Wijma told the AD in an interview that around half the treatments currently covered by basic insurance are not supported by science.

The NZA, which monitors costs and health insurers, is looking into the financing of the current system in more detail. One option under consideration would be to fund hospitals on the basis of successful treatments rather than the number of treatments a patient undergoes.

The government determines the make-up of the basic healthcare insurance policy and insurers are free to compete on price, top up premiums and other issues such as choice of hospital.

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