Safety and comfort: choosing your health insurance

Now that the time has come to switch health insurance, the question is always whether you have taken out the right health insurance for your personal situation. As always, it’s hard to see what health needs you will encounter in the coming year. Is it wise to set aside extra money for your health insurance? In this article, we give an overview of the possible consequences of spending more money on healthcare.

More money means more care?
An important question when it comes to healthcare is whether more money also means more care. This depends on many factors, of course. Waiting times are one variable that can limit people from receiving more care. Another variable is access to care which is fully reimbursed. Anyone can go to any specialist, but the question is whether this care will be reimbursed 100%. Some think that extra safety and comfort just leads to more care – some of which may be unnecessary. Let’s look at the variables.

Private healthcare institutions
Private healthcare facilities include clinics or treatment centres that are not part of a hospital. There are two types: private clinics and independent treatment centres. Private clinics do not require medical specialists to work and do not require a government license, although they still fall under the supervision of the Medical Inspectorate. In private clinics, treatments have to be paid out of pocket; health insurers do not reimburse these treatments. An advantage of this is that fewer people go to these clinics and that waiting times are therefore almost non-existent.

This is different for independent treatment centres. At least two specialists must work at these centres. These centres must be part of the CBIG, the government agency that supervises healthcare. Most of these centres are connected to a hospital in the region. Unlike a private clinic, treatments at these centres are reimbursed by health insurers, so that relatively more people will go there. When visiting such a centres, it is important to check whether your health insurer has a contract with the institution. Check to find independent treatment centres near you.

There are basically two types of health insurance in the Netherlands: reimbursement policies (restitutiepolis) and in-kind policies (naturapolis). Health insurers negotiate contracts with individual healthcare providers. If you have a reimbursement policy, your health insurer will always reimburse the full cost, even if the insurer does not have a contract with the provider. That means you can go anywhere and get everything reimbursed – although you have to first pay the provider, if they do not have a contract with your insurer. If the costs are high, this means you have to have the money available.

With an in-kind policy, if you visit a non-contracted care provider, you will be reimbursed a maximum of 75% of the costs, but you may get nothing at all. Therefore, you may prefer a reimbursement policy, as it will mean less hassle to find a healthcare provider when you need one. However, a reimbursement policy is more expensive than an in-kind policy.

Supplementary insurance
With supplementary insurance, you will be reimbursed for the care that is included in the package, such as physiotherapy, dental care, glasses or alternative medicine. However, that doesn’t mean you get more care; you will only be reimbursed for more types of care. However, there are certain packages that provide extra comfort. For example, you may be able to stay in a more luxurious hospital ward: a private room with internet, radio and television, more extensive meals and longer visiting hours.

In most cases, a more expensive health insurance does not mean more care, but more freedom. With a more expensive health insurance, i.e. with a reimbursement policy, you can go anywhere and all costs will be reimbursed. So you don’t have to worry about costs!