Doctors could halt common birth control procedure

T-shaped IUD
A T-shaped intrauterine device with a copper coil (Ceridwen/Wikimedia Commons)A T-shaped intrauterine device with a copper coil (Ceridwen/Wikimedia Commons)

Doctors in the Netherlands will likely refuse to fit women for intrauterine birth control devices as they will only be able to recover just over €18 for the procedure. The Ministry of Health has slashed the price insurers will be required to pay general practitioners from €55, beginning next year.

Women who want an IUD will likely have to be treated in a hospital for substantially more money, representatives of both main GP associations told the Volkskrant. The bulk of the hospital visit could come out of a patient’s deductible.

“Even well-meaning doctors will refuse the treatment in the future,” said National General Practitioners Association (LVH) vice president Bram Stegeman. “It only makes caring for patients more expensive.”

“Why should I do it for 18 euros, while the gynecologist says he can’t do the procedure for less than 500 euros?” asked Dr. Hans Gimbel, a general practitioner in Heerhugowaard, Noord Holland.

To reduce the cost of placing IUDs, the government historically encouraged GPs to handle the procedure instead of gynecologists.

The new plan is the brainchild of Health Minister Edith Schippers.

The conservative VVD parliamentarian believes, along with health insurers, that family doctors should receive a fee based on an estimated amount of time they consult with their patients. Doctors were previously allowed to claim a fixed rate per procedure.

Minister Schippers says she believes the end result is that doctors will provide more care to their patients under the new system.

“It is destined to fail,” Stegeman said.