Dutch health premiums could double by 2014
The increasing gap between growing healthcare costs and insurance premiums is set to exceed EUR 2.4 billion, concludes study.THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch healthcare sector is heading for a huge funding gap due to the effects of the financial and economic crisis.
A study carried out by a health sector consultancy firm to see whether proposed health ministry cutbacks from 2011 - set to total EUR 2.4 billion - would be enough to close the gap between growing healthcare costs and the funds acquired from insurance premiums and shrinking tax revenues concludes that the planned cutbacks represent "a drop in the ocean".
According to consultancy firm Gupta Strategists, they will only make up 15 percent of the shortfall.
To plug the gap by means of health insurance premiums alone, they would need to double by 2014.
While the ministry's proposed savings are theoretically feasible, the majority of savings can be made through market forces, with increased competition reducing healthcare sector costs, reports Gupta Strategists.
However, to make the savings envisaged through increased hospital efficiency, a reversal of past trends would be needed.
To realise a EUR 1.2 billion saving, hospitals would need to improve efficiency by 1.6 percent a year. So far, hospitals that top the list in maximising efficiency have managed to achieve more than a 1.4 percent annual improvement.
The cost per patient is rising by 0.5 percent a year.
Popular daily newspaper De Telegraaf reports that as a measure to help make up the shortfall, Health Minister Ab Klink is also considering introducing a charge to people who visit hospital Accident and Emergency departments without a doctor's referral.
To make the necessary savings, between 13,000 and 20,000 jobs in the healthcare sector would have to be cut – the equivalent of closing down between eight and 12 hospitals – by 2014.
The study concludes if the government opts to bail out all hospitals which may face financial difficulties, as with the Ijsselmeer hospital group, it would push up the national debt by EUR 4 billion.
In the near future, up to 50 hospitals could face financial crises, predicts the report.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica