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Choosing a health plan: are Dutch consumers loyal to their health insurer?

Hendriks, M., Groenewegen, P.P., Delnoij, D.M.J. Choosing a health plan: are Dutch consumers loyal to their health insurer? European Journal of Public Health: 2006, 16(Suppl. 1) 35-36. Abstract. 14 th Eupha conference "Politics, Policies and /or the Public's Health", Montreux, 16-18 November 2006.
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In 2006, a number of far-reaching reforms have been implemented in the Dutch health insurance system. Giving Dutch consumers the freedom to change health plans every year increases consumer mobility. The idea is that especially consumers who are dissatisfied with their insurer will decide to switch health plan, thereby improving the efficiency of the health care system. Up to date, however, it is unknown why consumers change health insurer or decide to be loyal to their insurer. The present study aimed to examine the influence of insurer trust, experiences with a health plan, and identification with a health insurer on health insurer loyalty. Methods: An access-panel consisting of over 10 000 people insured at one particular health insurer was used. A subgroup of members (N ¼ 1500) was approached to answer questions on insurer trust, identification with the insurer, and past experiences with the insurer. In addition, questions on insurer loyalty were posed. Respondents indicated whether they intended to stay with their health insurer or considered changing health insurer. Results: Preliminary results show that most people (72%) were insured at the health plan in question for 10 years or more. This suggests that people are loyal to their health plan. People mostly reported positive experiences with their health plan providing an explanation for this loyalty. Conclusions: People appear to be loyal to their health insurer, partly because they are satisfied with the provided service. The question, however, remains whether people will stay insured at the same health plan when changing health plan becomes easier. To answer this question, the relationships between insurer trust, past experiences with the insurer, identification with the insurer, and insurer loyalty are currently examined. (aut. ref.)