New health insurance is 'nonsense', minister says

28th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 November 2005, AMSTERDAM — Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman has been advised to resign if he stands by his assertion that the new health insurance system is based on nonsense.

28 November 2005

AMSTERDAM — Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman has been advised to resign if he stands by his assertion that the new health insurance system is based on nonsense.

MP Edith Schippers of the Liberal Party (VVD) offered the advice to the minister in an interview published in Monday's edition of newspaper 'De Volkskrant'. The VVD is one of the three parties in the centre-right government coalition.

Re-iterating her party's annoyance when she spoke to Radio 1 news on Monday morning, Schippers described Veerman's statements as "incredible". The new health insurance comes into force on 1 January.

Schippers said she was very curious to hear how Veerman intended to explain himself in Parliament in Tuesday.

Veerman, a member of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats (CDA), launched a surprise attack on the government's fundamental redesign of the health insurance system. 

The current two-tier, public-private system is being replaced by a universal basic health insurance for all in 2006. The coverage in the basic package will be similar to the coverage provided by the current public ziekenfonds system, but it will cost more. People can take out supplementary coverage.

Veerman said at the weekend the underlying philosophy behind the change - that people will shop around for the insurer which offers them the best value, stimulating market forces - was "nonsense and a fiction".

Veerman said people would choose the most convenient option and stay with their current insurance company, rather than opting for a few cents advantage. He cited the example of the liberalisation in the energy market - only about 10 percent of consumers have switched supplier.

Schippers conceded during the Radio 1 interview that she did not expect many people to switch insurance companies in the first year. But she said she was furious about Veerman's public criticism of "the biggest reform project of this Cabinet".

"Veerman was part of all the decisions. It is completely incredible he is now distancing himself from these decisions," Schippers said. "If Veerman means what he said, he must ask himself what he is still doing in the Cabinet".

Newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported that Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst (VVD) rang Veerman at the weekend to ask for an explanation for his remarks.

Several parties have asked that Veerman clarify his statements in Parliament on Tuesday.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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