Penalties for reimbursement of inflated hospital bills
The Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa), supervisor of the health sector in the Netherlands, announced that health insurance companies could face fines for failing to check that hospital bills are correct.
This follows the so-called "earwax gate" where an insurance company was charged 1.066,73 euros for an earwax removal which lasted all of a few minutes at a hospital in Terneuzen. It was revealed that a year earlier the same procedure would have cost only 110 euros.
In mid-December the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam also found itself under investigation, accused of making declarations for treatments which were never performed.
The NZa has stated that insurers do too little to detect such healthcare fraud and that the issue should be more systematically addressed in order to prevent further increases in the cost of healthcare tariffs.
This comes at a time when the minimum "own risk" of Dutch insurance policies has risen from 220 to 350 euros.
Though admitting that the initial responsibility lies with the hospitals themselves the supervisor called for insurers to make use of patient details better. When a hospital has been identified as charging inflated prices for simple procedures then the insurers have been asked to take steps to refuse reimbursement after a certain number of such procedures.