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Dutch regulators call on consumers to take a close look at their health insurances

It is important that consumers are able to make an informed and conscious decision when choosing a health insurance that meets their needs. Now that they have received the offer from their current insurer, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) and the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa) call on consumers to check whether that offer still meets their needs, and to compare it with offers from other insurers.

On consumer information portal  (in Dutch), consumers can find tools such a step-by-step guide to help them compare offers and make the right choice. If consumers continue to assess offers critically, they force health insurers to continue to improve their policies.

Comparing pays off

Dutch consumers have from mid-November until January 1 to choose a new health insurance. Consumers that take a close look at their current health insurances may, for example, be able to save on their premium of the basic insurance package, opt for additional health insurance packages with expanded coverage and/or make a better choice regarding the level of their deductible. The step-by-step guide on ConsuWijzer’s website helps consumers gain clear insight into what is important to them with regard to their health insurance in 2015. Consumers that know what they want are better able to compare the different offers.

Studies into price comparison websites

Consumers can use the coverage overviews of health insurers to make a comparison. In addition, consumers also like to use price comparison websites. However, they are unsure of the neutrality and trustworthiness of such price comparison websites. That is why the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), NZa and ACM each carried out a study into price comparison websites, and into the experiences of consumers when choosing a health insurance.

ACM’s study among consumers revealed that they wish to receive reliable information from price comparison websites, based on their personal situations and needs. In addition, consumers also wish to have a good overview of the offerings of health insurers, as well as improved comparability of these offerings. In its study, AFM looked into the way these price comparison websites operate. Finally, NZa examined how health insurers provide price comparison websites with information, and what the consequences thereof are on the accuracy and comparability of the offerings found on the various price comparison websites. Consumers must be able to rely on the fact that the information about health insurance policies is correct, including information found on price comparison websites. Health insurers are responsible for the accuracy of the policy information on the price comparison websites they do business with. NZa has reminded the health insurers of this responsibility.

Using price comparison websites

ACM, AFM and NZa help consumers get the most out of price comparison websites. Five practical tips on how to do so are listed on the website of ConsuWijzer. For example, the more options you are able to enter on price comparison websites, the better they are able to search for you. Furthermore, it must be clear to consumers how these sites come to their search results, and what their business models are. Based on such information, consumers are able to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to use a specific price-comparison website for making their choices. Consumers are always better off if they use multiple sites in order to determine which they are the most comfortable with in terms of use, selection, and clarity. If consumers are unsure about the exact coverage of certain offers, they should contact the health insurer in question themselves, and check with them.