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ACM sees opportunities for proton therapy centers for cancer treatment

Health insurance companies may not make joint arrangements to conclude a contract with only one proton therapy center for the treatment of cancer. They had asked ACM for an informal opinion to see whether this was allowed or not. According to ACM, one or more such centers will be created even without these arrangements. Multiple centers ensure more choice for patients.

Proton therapy is an innovative method for the treatment of certain types of cancer. At the moment, there is no treatment center in the Netherlands; patients resort to treatment abroad. The Dutch minister of Health, Welfare and Sport issued four authorizations to build such treatment centers in the Netherlands.

Health insurance companies recognize that few patients go abroad to seek treatment and therefore hold the opinion that one treatment center at the moment is sufficient. In the years to come, however, the initiators of the proton therapy centers, the Health Council of the Netherlands and the Health Care Institute of the Netherlands expect many more patients than do the health insurance companies.

If health insurance companies jointly conclude a contract with one treatment center, this reduces the chance that other centers are created. Health insurance companies claim to intend to rule out that too many treatment centers or no treatment centers at all are built. However, if the numbers of patients approach the estimates of the initiators of the proton therapy centers, this may result in waiting lists.

ACM recognizes that there is significant uncertainty about the potential numbers of patients. This creates the risk that the arrangements which the health insurance companies intend to make will limit the choices for patients too much. Therefore, ACM deems it undesirable to let health insurance companies make joint arrangements to conclude a contract with a single treatment center.