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Consumers look for certainty when taking out health insurance

Consumers look for certainty when choosing a health insurance policy. This is particularly true for consumers who have already been with the same health insurer for a long period of time. Of those consumers, almost one in two say that having the assurance that the new health insurer will cover the same health care would be reason for them to consider switching health insurers. This has been revealed by the Health Care Monitor, which is an annual survey among consumers into the health insurance market, and is carried out by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

Consumers seek assurance

Uncertainty about the implications of a switch but also satisfaction with their current health insurer are two reasons that keep consumers from switching insurers. Consumers who have never switched before and who have never looked around say that they are satisfied with their current health insurer. Consumers who have been with the same health insurer for at least ten years (this concerns half of all consumers) were asked to name the circumstances under which they would consider switching insurers. Almost half of this group (46%) say they would switch if they were given the assurance that their new health insurer offered them the same coverage. At the same time, 33% of this group say they would not consider switching insurers under any circumstances.

Consumers seek information

In order to improve their ability to compare health insurers, consumers would like to have better information about reimbursements in the supplemental insurance plans (39%), about the quality of the contracted health care providers (26%), and about premiums (24%). A majority of consumers are not yet familiar with certain sources of useful information such as the so-called health insurance overview. With that tool, consumers are able to compare the various basic health insurance packages more easily. This year, more consumers (35%) have indicated that they are considering a switch to another health insurer compared with last year (28%).

Main conclusions of the study

  • Last year, 10% of all respondents switched health insurers. This percentage has been stable for many years;
  • 69% did not switch and did not look around;
  • Premiums were the most important reason for switching, and they were more important than in the previous year;
  • 49% of all consumers have been with the same health insurer for at least ten years;
  • The most important reason for not switching is satisfaction with one’s current health insurer.

Trends in the health insurance market

ACM examines how competition evolves in the health insurance market. One of the contributing factors to that evolution is the degree to which consumer switch health insurers. Switching is not a goal unto itself. However, consumers who have had the same health insurance for a long period of time may no longer have the insurance that fits their needs best. Switching health insurers could then be beneficial.