Publicatie datum

An assessment of the Dutch experience with health insurers acting as healthcare advisors.

Victoor, A., Brabers, A.E.M., Esch, T.E.M. van, Jong, J.D. de. An assessment of the Dutch experience with health insurers acting as healthcare advisors. PLoS One: 2019, 14(e0224829)
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With managed competition, selective contracting and the appointing of preferred providers
are important instruments for health insurers to improve their bargaining position in the
healthcare purchasing market. Insurers can offer enrollees extra services, such as advice
about their healthcare, to attract them, ensure that they remain loyal, and to channel them to preferred providers. We investigate which advice services insurers in the Dutch system of managed competition offer enrollees, how they inform them about services, and if enrollees use and appreciate them.

Materials and methods
From November to December 2017, two researchers independently analyzed the websites of all health insurers in the Netherlands. We also conducted a questionnaire study among 1,500 members (response 44.5%, N = 668) of the Nivel Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel.

Results and discussion
All insurers offer one or more services. Most enrollees do not know if their insurer offers
advice (67–87% per service). Twelve per cent (N = 76) of the enrollees indicate that they
ever made use of a service, mostly regarding the choice of provider (N = 42). Respondents who used healthcare advice were satisfied with it. Of all enrollees, 41% indicate that they would probably/certainly, contact their insurer for advice and 37% would appreciate it if their insurer approached them. Among enrollees, 40% indicated the potential advice has some or a major influence on their choice of insurer.

While all insurers offer at least one service, enrollees generally are unaware of them. Only a minority ever made use of such a service. However, a reasonable proportion do appreciate their insurers’ advice services and indicate that they would like to have contact with their insurer if they need care. Insurers do not appear to make the best use of the potential for giving healthcare advice and need to think about ways to increase coverage of those services.