Too soon to speculate about Covid-related premium increases: Health insurers
According to the association for health insurers in the Netherlands ZN, it is premature to speculate about whether the coronavirus outbreak will lead to higher health insurance premiums, given that "there is no insight yet into the total costs". But if the government wants to keep eventual premium increases as limited as possible, it must scrap its plans to eliminate market forces from healthcare, ZN said in a letter to Ministers Hugo de Jonge of Public Health, Tamara van Ark for Medical Care, and Public Health State Secretary Paul Blokhuis.
"Also because no one knows whether another major outbreak of the virus will take place, it remains difficult to predict the premium for the coming year," the health insurers said in their letter, ANP reports. Because the total costs involved in dealing with the pandemic remain unclear, it is impossible to conclude what effect these costs will have on premiums, they said.
The health insurers expect to pay around 5 billion euros in continuity contributions to small and large healthcare providers this year. This amount is meant to compensate for coronavirus involved costs and setbacks, such as lost income when regular healthcare came to a standstill at the height of the crisis, extra costs incurred to treat the coronavirus, and other lost income, as well as the costs of catch-up treatments.
ZN also spoke out against the Health Ministers' plans to limit market forces in healthcare. Health insurers teaming up for collective schemes and ignoring competitiveness to deal with the coronavirus is fine in a crisis situation, but should not become permanent, ZN chairman Dirk Jan van den Berg said to newspaper Trouw. Because it is the market forces and friendly competition that keep healthcare costs under control, he said.
"Health insurers try to perform as well as possible themselves, they are not in it for profit. At the same time, we also like to learn from each other. One health insurer focuses on prevention, another on sensible care. This is how innovation is created. That does not happen by steering from above," Van den Berg said.