The Dutch Cabinet agreed to change the Health Insurance Act in an attempt of making it more affordable and more efficient. But one early payment is now becoming a smaller recurring fee for each time a patient gets treatment.
Minister Ernst Kuipers took this decision at the beginning of this month, within a coalition agreement meant to lower the yearly medical expenses of insurance holders in the Netherlands.
The current medical system implies that insurance holders pay their first medical expense out of their own pocket with a maximum worth of 385 euros every year. This amount is called ‘eigen risico’ (‘own risk) and it’s mandatory for every person insured in The Netherlands.
Due to this payment process that patients have to go through before they get treated, the medical system adopted a strategy that highly relies on curing rather than preventing.
“If you have the money you can get cured. For what I needed, [the system] was functional but quite slow,” Ilaria Bonvini told The Groningen Observer. She is a student from the University of Groningen and is insured in The Netherlands for more than one year.
Bonvini suffers from a mental illness she did not want to disclose. She uses her health insurance to cover her therapy sessions and medication.
To be paid for
The insurance company will cover everything that comes after the mandatory sum of 385 euros regardless of the number of hospital or specialist visits.
Starting in 2025, the government agreed to reduce the ‘own risk’ to 150 euros, but are changing it from a one-time payment to a recurring fee for every treatment to make health insurance more affordable.
“It’s because of all the costs of living, groceries, and everything, when you go to the hospital they can take 385 euros at one time, but now it’s going to be less per hospital visit. Now, they can take only 150 euros per diagnosis,” a spokesperson from Holland Zorg told The GO.
Holland Zorg is a health insurance expert website that helps Dutch residents to choose and pick their health insurance policies.
“Applying the mandatory deductible sum can be done smarter, that’s what this intervention aims. For many, this adjustment means a lighter burden, while no one has to pay a higher amount”, stated Minister Kuipers. He believes that “this reform also contributes to the accessibility of health care.”
Unquestionably, the adjustment made by the cabinet makes health insurance more affordable for people that don’t need to visit the hospital too often.
But, for patients like Bonvini who pay their ‘own risk’ and use their health insurance to further get treatment and medications covered, the new reform seems unreliable.
“For people that can’t afford it, I don’t know how that can function,” said Bonvini when asked about the effectiveness of the adjustment.
Switching is the trend
In addition to Bonvini, 70% of people in The Netherlands believe that the current healthcare system needs a thorough revision of how it provides quality and affordability.
The current system also offers the possibility of switching the insurance company at the end of every year.
In The Netherlands, approximately 1.4 million policyholders jump from one health insurance company to another at the end of the year. 2022 saw the highest number of holders ever recorded since the introduction of the current healthcare system in 2006.
“The general dissatisfaction of people is not a reason for this change to happen,” said the spokesperson from Holland Zorg.