Dutch government to limit free choice of doctor
The Cabinet wants to limit Netherlands residents’ freedom to choose their own doctor by no longer obliging health insurers to reimburse the bill for a doctor they don’t have a contract with. In practice, this means that people who choose a doctor outside their insurer’s network will have to pay a large part of the bill themselves, the Volkskrant reports.
The proposal forms part of a draft of the Integrated Care Agreement. The Agreement aims to reorganize healthcare and focuses on more cooperation between healthcare providers and ensuring care is available close to the patient.
The Dutch healthcare system is under pressure due to rising costs, staff shortages, and the aging population. To make the system more effective, the government wants all healthcare providers in the 31 regions to work together and conclude contracts with health insurers and municipalities. Insured persons should then primarily get care from those partnerships. No longer obliging health insurers to reimburse non-contracted care should help with that.
The Cabinet also wants to reduce the pressure on general practitioners and district nurses, who are picking up the brunt of long waiting times in other types of care. “(Self-)care resources” online should help reduce the workload. The Cabinet also wants to set up an organization per region to help GPs, mental health services, and municipalities work better together. That should ensure that GPs are no longer responsible for people waiting for mental healthcare.
The Integrated Care Agreement also wants hospitals to specialize more and treat people outside the hospital if possible. “Close to home where possible for more simple specialist care, a little further from home for highly specialized complex care,” the plan states, according to the newspaper.