Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fred: the Netherlands Model

Hello again, everyone!

For those of you who missed it, there was a very worthwhile report on PBS's "Newshour" show tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 6) about Health Care in the Netherlands. You can find it by going to the PBS website ; on the main page you should see a header for the show--if not, click the tab for "recent shows" and, if necessary, search for Health Care in the Netherlands. In a nutshell: everyone must have health insurance; all coverage is through private insurance companies, but they are tightly regulated and (a) must insure anyone who wants to buy from them, and (b) must charge everyone the same price for the same coverage regardless of age, health condition, etc. The upshot is that, since the companies cannot compete for customers on price, which is established by agreement between the government and the companies, they must compete on quality of care. There is some kind of formula by which the government reimburses companies that have a lot of high-cost patients (e.g., the elderly, or patients with chronic, expensive conditions). But just listen to the newshour show, it takes a few minutes, you won't be disappointed. The best part: they pay about half of what we pay in the US per patient, and for better results. There is also an interesting short article that compares health care in five countries--the US, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, and Mexico. Also very revealing.
 Best, -Fred