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More people struggle to afford health insurance

The number of people that had to take out a payment extension with their health care insurance company increased by 35 percent in the first six months of this year, according to research by the NRC Handelsblad. Extensions were made more often, not only for regular premiums, but also for the own risk element (eigen risico).

According to a survey of 7 health insurance companies with a total of 14 million clients, NRC found that about 164.000 Dutch citizens were behind on their payments, compared to 122.209 over the same period last year. These figures refer to people who are behind on their payments by six months or less.

If your premium is overdue, your health insurer will send you a letter after you're two months behind on payments. You can then make an arrangement to extend your payment period and / or reduce the minimum payment. After four months without payment you will receive another warning. If you still can't make your payment, you can go to your municipality for assistance in paying your debts.

If you get six months behind, your health insurer will report you to the Health Care Insurance Board (College voor Zorgverzekeringen, or CVZ). Your premium will then be increased, and the amount due will be deducted directly from your wages or benefits. The increased premium will end once the entire debt has been paid or if you have made arrangements for debt counselling.

Note that the own risk element in health insurance rose from 170 to 220 euros at the beginning of this year and is expected to rise to 350 euros in 2013.

If you have questions or need advice regarding health insurance, check out Stichting De Ombudsman, which has a phone hotline and plenty of helpful information available in English on their website.

Source: NRC Handelsblad

 

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