Health insurance industry in choppy waters over pandemic; Premiums likely to rise

Health insurance
The rising cost of health care and insurance, as described by the image's creator.photo: 401(K) 2012 / Flickr

The Covid-19 outbreak is is beginning to cause disruption in the health insurance industry. This is evidenced by the fact that medical costs of coronavirus-related health problems sans hospitalization are not necessarily being covered by insurance providers, combined with the fact that the cost of existing health insurance premiums is set to rise.

While a large number of Covid-19 patients have not required a visit to the hospital, many patients instead have been making use of other health services such as physiotherapy, dietetics, occupational therapy and psychology to assist their recovery, newspaper AD reported.

On some existing health insurance schemes, patients are entitled to the use of services such as these for a maximum of one year after their discharge from hospital, but no provision has been made for people who did not need to visit the hospital, and who do not have additional coverage to pay for services not included in the basic mandatory health insurance package. A representative of insurer CZ said they asked the government to consult on the issue, but no arrangements have yet been made.

According to Maaike Grevelink of Health Insurers Netherlands, the mismatch arises out of the fact that Covid-19 is still regarded as an "ordinary disease", as there has not been time for decision-making bodies like the RIVM and the cabinet to adapt. "What will ultimately be included in the basic package is determined by the Healthcare Institute and the ministry. That is now being looked at, of course," she said.

Over and above the confusion over access, the price of insurance premiums is also expected to see a tangible rise. Health economist Wim Groot wrote in healthcare management publication Zorgvisie last Tuesday that insurance premiums will see an annualized increase of around 150 euros in 2021.

While it is broadly accepted that premiums will rise, Marie-José van Gardingen​ from CZ cautions against trying to determine a new price too soon. "There is no point in mentioning amounts at the moment. And there are simply too many variables," she explained.

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