Background: Recent attempts of active disinvestment (i.e. withdrawal of reimbursement by means of a policy decision) of reimbursed healthcare interventions in the Netherlands have differed in their outcome: some attempts were successful, with interventions actually being disinvested. Other attempts were terminated at some point, implying unsuccessful disinvestment. This study aimed to obtain insight into recent active disinvestment processes, and to explore what aspects affect their outcome. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted from January to December 2018 with stakeholders (e.g. patients, policymakers, physicians) who were involved in the policy process of five cases for which the full or partial withdrawal of reimbursement was considered in the Netherlands between 2007 and 2017: benzodiazepines, medication for Fabry disease, quit smoking programme, psychoanalytic therapy and maternity care assistance. These cases covered both interventions that were eventually disinvested and interventions for which reimbursement was maintained after consideration. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, double coded and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: The 37 interviews showed that support for disinvestment from stakeholders, especially from healthcare providers and policymakers, strongly affected the outcome of the disinvestment process. Furthermore, the institutional role of stakeholders as legitimized by the Dutch health insurance system, their financial interests in maintaining or discontinuing reimbursement, and the possibility to relieve the consequences of disinvestment for current patients affected the outcome of the disinvestment process as well. A poor organization of patient groups may make it difficult for patients to exert pressure, which may contribute to successful disinvestment. No evidence was found of a consistent role of the formal Dutch package criteria (i.e. effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, necessity and feasibility) in active disinvestment processes. Conclusions: Contextual factors as well as the possibility to relieve the consequences of disinvestment for current patients are important determinants of the outcome of active disinvestment processes. These results provide insight into active disinvestment processes and their determinants, and provide guidance to policymakers for a potentially more successful approach for future active disinvestment processes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the strategic research programme RIVM (S/133005), a research fund from the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, the Netherlands. Funders had no role in the design of the study, its conduct, and the analysis and interpretation of the results and were not involved in manuscript preparation or submission.
© 2021, The Author(s).