Veerman backtracks on insurance 'nonsense'

29th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 November 2005, AMSTERDAM — Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman has withdrawn his claim that the new health insurance system is based on "nonsense and a fiction".

29 November 2005

AMSTERDAM — Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman has withdrawn his claim that the new health insurance system is based on "nonsense and a fiction".

Fielding questions about the comments he made to newspaper 'De Volkskrant' last week, Veerman told parliament on Tuesday he regretted giving the impression he was not a supporter of the new health insurance system which comes into force on 1 January.

Harried by Socialist Party MP Agnes Kant, Veerman said he had meant to say that all new policies contain "drawbacks". He backtracked further and said that these "drawbacks" have been overcome by his colleague, Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst.

Liberal Party MP Edith Schippers, who had called on Veerman to consider his position in government, indicated on Tuesday that she was happy the minister was back on message. "Nicely done," was her judgement on Veerman's about-face.

While opposition parties expressed concern Veerman had been bullied into towing the government line, MP Bert Bakker of the D66 accused Veerman, a member of the Christian Democrats (CDA), of being disloyal to Hoogervorst (VVD).

The CDA, VVD and D66 are all part of the centre-right coalition government in the Netherlands.

Veerman repeated his belief that the introduction of the new health insurance system will not automatically lead to people switching health insurers. But he said this was not essential to realise the government's aim to stimulate market forces within the healthcare 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.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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