Cuts to basic health insurance save €250 million less than expected

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Cuts to items covered under the mandatory basic health insurance package is saving the country less money than expected, reports the Netherlands Court of Audit. Between 2007 and 2013, roughly 250 million euro was saved through the cuts, about half the amount the cabinet predicted under former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

"The removal of treatments from the basic health insurance is far less effective as a measure to control expenditure in healthcare than intended," the government auditing body stated on Tuesday.

There were thirty care-giving changes made to the basic package between 2007 and 2013. Some cholesterol reduction treatments are no longer reimbursed, and neither is birth control under many circumstances. The Health Ministry expected cutting cholesterol medication from coverage would save up to 97 million annually. In reality, it only saved 18 million per year.

The current coalition government wants more cutbacks to save around 225 million annually starting in 2017. However, the Court of Audit believes that the target is difficult to achieve, specifically mentioning the National Health Care Institute prediction of a decline in medical spending of less than 50 million.

The Court of Audit insists that service users should be encouraged to make appropriate use of the care they receive.  This would lead to a “more effective management”, according to the authority.

Health minister Edith Schippers agreed with conclusions of the court, but stressed that financial adjustment to the basic package are not always easily measurable. The Institute also finds that controlling expenditures is not the primary goal. Quality and accessibility of care should remain the priority.

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