Dutch insurer Menzis to pay depression treatments based on results

Menzis building in Wageningen
Menzis building in WageningenPhoto: ArjanH / Wikimedia Commons

Health insurer Menzis will now pay for depression treatments based on result, instead of on the number of treatments. The insurer signed a contract on this new approach with 18 mental health institutions. This involves treatments that last for less than a year, for patients who do not have chronic depression, NOS reports.

According to Menis, the new approach leads to more effective treatments. And part of the money saved with this approach will go back to the institutions, who can invest it in their patients. The new approach does not mean that treatments are only reimbursed if they have a result, a spokesperson stressed to NOS. 

Mind, the national platform for patients in mental health care, thinks it is good to look at the result of treatments, but is also worried by the new approach. "The risk is that patients fall outside the boat if insurers only look at the costs", spokesperson Menno Tusschenbroek said to the broadcaster.

Pim Cuijpers, professor of clinical psychology at the Vrije Universiteit, is also critical of the new approach. It is hard to say whether a treatment improved a patient's condition, he said to the Volkskrant. "Many people feel better spontaneously", he said. He also worries that this will lead to mental health institutions only taking on easy patients.

Menzis rejects this criticism, according to NOS. According to the insurer, it is possible to see whether a treatment has results based on questionnaires before, during and after treatment. A spokesperson added that the measure will certainly not lead to only easy patients being treated. "Severe patients are a bigger challenge for the specialist and he is rewarded more for a good result", he said to NOS. "It is a saving for health care institutions. This is not a punishment model, but a revenue model and the patient will not notice it financially."

Volante, a joint venture of large healthcare institutions, is positive about the new approach. Treatment teams can learn from each other if the answers to the questionnaires are shared, chairman Ernst Klunder said to the broadcaster. As a result, parts of treatments can be scrapped if they prove to be ineffective.