Doctors threaten strikes over new system
10 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — Family doctors are threatening to intensify strike action after Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst decided to hand control over a new funding system to insurers.
10 May 2005
AMSTERDAM — Family doctors are threatening to intensify strike action after Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst decided to hand control over a new funding system to insurers.
The chairman of the doctors association LHV, Bas Vos, said he is "pissed off" by the decision, stressing that the minister has deceived doctors.
Hoogervorst had agreed last month to give health insurers control over the division of EUR 138 million set aside for a planned reform of the family doctor system.
However, doctors rejected the deal and demanded that the money be included in a fixed registration fee they receive per patient.
In a bid to end the conflict, the Liberal VVD minister decided on Monday to raise the registration fee from EUR 45 to EUR 48 per patient, stipulating also that doctors must negotiate on an individual basis with insurers over the remaining EUR 90 million for the reforms.
This will only apply to the "transition" year of 2006, in which the new health insurance law will come into effect.
Insurance association ZN regrets the decision by Hoogervorst to reduce the amount of money open for negotiation, but LHV chief Vos accused insurers of contributing to the minister's decision.
Pointing out that doctors were asked to take a salary cut three years ago during the economic slump, Vos said doctors are now being asked to yield another EUR 15,000 per surgery.
Hoogervorst has assured doctors that this money will be repaid by health insurers in "local negotiations". However, Vos said this means doctors must first give up EUR 15,000 and then negotiate whether they will be repaid the money.
Vos expects doctors will strongly resist the reforms. They will meet on Wednesday night to discuss strike action and Vos expects a large number will walk off the job. Stop work action was previously held on 21 April.
Hoogervorst believes the time for negotiating is over, however, and has instructed the Healthcare Fees Council to draw up the new payment system with insurers and doctors by June. Hoogervorst needs the new system in place to implement the new health insurance scheme next year.
Currently, doctors receive a fixed fee per patient with the ziekenfonds public health insurance scheme and are compensated for private health cover patients via a registration and consultation fee.
In the new system, the difference between public and privately insured patients will disappear and everyone will have a compulsory base insurance package.
Hoogervorst wants to give doctors a fixed registration fee of EUR 48 for every patient and a consultation fee of about EUR 7.
Doctors must then make agreements with insurers about extra money for practice support and reforms such as diabetes treatment, solo surgeries in rural areas and healthcare for people in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news