Financing COVID-19-related health care costs in the Dutch competitive health system during 2020 and 2021: Overall experiences and policy recommendations for improving health system resilience

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Abstract

The Dutch health system is based on the principles of managed (or regulated) competition, meaning that competing risk bearing insurers and providers negotiate contracts on the price, quantity and quality of care. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a huge external shock to the health system which potentially distorted the conditions required for fair competition. Therefore, an important question is to what extent was the competitive Dutch health system resilient to the financial shock caused by the pandemic? Overall, the Dutch competitive health system proved to be sufficiently flexible and resilient at absorbing the financial shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 due to an effective combination of regulatory and self-regulatory measures. However, based on the overall experiences in the Netherlands, from the health policy perspective improvements are needed aimed at (i) refining the catastrophic costs clause included in the Health Insurance Act, (ii) reducing the vulnerability of the Dutch risk equalisation system to distortions due to unforeseen catastrophic health care costs, and (iii) establishing more equal financial risk sharing between health insurers and health care providers. These improvements are also relevant for other countries with a health system based on the principles of managed (or regulated) competition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104969
JournalHealth Policy
Volume141
Early online date25 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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