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People who often need a lot of health care are less likely to switch health insurers

09-05-2019

This year, individuals who need a lot of health care were considerably less likely to switch health insurers than individuals who indicate they do not need any health care. This has been one of the findings of the Health Care Monitor 2019, a survey into the health insurance market conducted annually by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

Examples of individuals who need a lot of health care are those with a chronic disease, a condition or a lengthy recovery period, who need constant health care. Many people in this group are satisfied with their health insurance. At the same time however, the Health Care Monitor also shows that people in this group (who have not switched) are much more worried about being refused by another health insurer (18%) or that they will encounter hidden costs (14%). Among the individuals who claim not to need any health care, those percentages are respectively 2% and 8%. However, health insurers are required to accept everyone for the basic health insurance package, and must be transparent about what kinds of health care they cover. In addition, one of the basic principles health insurers have agreed on is that individuals switching health insurers will be accepted without any additional terms if they switch to comparable additional-insurance packages.

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, says: “We find it an undesirable situation if individuals who need a lot of health care experience these switching barriers. This group stimulates insurers to offer high-quality, accessible, and affordable health care. Insurers thus need to explain to the public that no such eligibility rules exist. In that way, they are able to make sure that such switching barriers will disappear. One of the ways to do so is by explicitly paying attention to those concerns during the switching period at the end of each calendar year.”

Individuals who need a lot of health care are critical about health care

Individuals who need a lot of health care are much less likely to switch. At the same time, this group (more than any other group) indicates they see differences between health insurers more often. In addition, they adjusted their policies with their current insurers more often this year. So this is a group of observant individuals who, based on their own experiences, are able to keep insurers on their toes. In order to do so, insurers need to make their information clearer. This is because this group of individuals tends to have less confidence in the information about coverage and reimbursements currently found on the insurers’ websites.  

Individuals who need a lot of health care differ in the aspects on which they think health insurers should focus, compared with individuals who do not need any health care. For example, they indicate that insurers should actively make sure health care is readily available in their area, offer a lot of freedom of choice, and impose quality requirements on health care providers. Individuals who do not need any health care are more likely to find it important that health insurers negotiate hard with health care providers to keep premiums as low as possible, and that health insurers reward healthy choices of insured, which would prevent them from needing health care.

About the study

The Health Care Monitor was conducted by Motivaction, a Dutch independent research agency, commissioned by ACM, among a representative sample of over 1,500 Dutch individuals aged 18 to 80. The results are representative for education, age, gender, region, mentality and background, and size of household.

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