It’s that time of the year when people in the Netherlands receive updates about their health care plans. Between November and December, companies adjust premiums (zorgpremies) for the following year, giving individuals and families a time window to check the new conditions and rates. People can decide to continue with their plan or switch to a different, more convenient one.
According to the Dutch government, the average premium for 2023 is €138.11 per month: an increase of about €12 from 2022. The rise in healthcare insurance rates was expected. During the Prinsjesdag – when the Minister of Finance proposed the next year’s national budget – the cabinet estimated that the premiums would grow by an average of €11 per month. For 2022, the prediction was €4.
There are multiple reasons behind the increase. Inflation affects the healthcare industry: prices for medical devices and drugs went up, and so did the salaries of medical professionals. These factors make care more expensive, as the premium covers them. On top of that, the demand for care is increasing while the supply is becoming progressively scarce. In the latest State of healthcare report, the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa) states that the Dutch healthcare system has reached “a critical point,” pushing insurers to take the lead in a process “to map the demand for support and care, based on the health status of the population.”
Different companies, different rates
It is mandatory to subscribe to a basic insurance plan (basisverzekering) in the Netherlands. The content of this package is the same for everyone, but the premium that insurers charge may differ by company. Every year, the government sets which care is included in the coming year’s basic insurance. People pay a minimum deductible of €385 for most medical care under basic insurance. It is possible to set a higher deductible (up to €885) to lower the premium and add supplementary care and services to the plan.
Some companies increased their plans by a few euros only, others up to €18 per month. Such differences happen because insurers can use part of their reserves to reduce rises. Almost all of them do so, but how much they can (and want) to source from their reserves differs.
Another change is also likely to impact the monthly premiums users pay. From 2023, the group discount (a reduction of up to 5% granted by subscribing to collective insurance plans through an employer or sports club) will no longer be allowed for basic insurance but only for supplementary care. In 2019, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), 43% of Dutch people were insured under collective plans.
There are online platforms and comparison websites for those who want to shop around. The most used are Pricewise, Zorgwijzer and the Consumentenbond. Lower-income people can apply for a healthcare allowance (toeslag): the government increased the maximum monthly benefit to €154 to mitigate the effect of the rising prices and inflation on people.
In the North
Some health insurers operate only in specific areas of the country. De Friesland serves over 600,000 policyholders, 57% of which are in the Friesland region, making it the biggest health insurance company in the northern Netherlands. De Friesland’s basic premium 2023 is set at €130.95 a month, a 15.6% increase compared to 2022 rates. Menzis, the leading provider in the Groningen region, will raise the premium for its most popular plan by 6% (from €133.25 to €141.25).
In Groningen, the municipality provides extra financial support to residents who meet specific criteria. Due to the cancellation of group discounts from 1 January 2023, the municipality of Groningen will no longer have collective insurance for minimum wage earners. People living in Groningen can use a postcode-based online comparison tool (in Dutch) to find the most suitable care plan.