To switch or not to switch?

6 December 2018

All insurance providers have announced their premiums for 2019. Increases in premium are considerable (up to 12 € per month) but vary considerably from provider to provider.

You now have the option to look for a better deal and for instance switch to another insurance provider or make changes to your policy. If you want switch provider or make changes in your current policy, do so no later than December 31st!

This newsletter presents a number of subjects that may help you to find out what is best for and your family going into the new year:

  • Changing your current health insurance policy
  • Switching to another health insurance provider
  • Is it wise to change your level of excess (decuctible or 'eigen risico')
  • What supplementary insurance do you really need
  • Other ways to reduce your healthcare costs

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Changing your current basic health insurance policy
What are the changes you may consider to your policy?

  • Change the type of policy you have: from a restitution policy to an in-kind (‘natura’) policy or even an budget policy. A restitution policy offers a free choice of healthcare provider, while a in-kind policy limits your choice to providers that have been contracted by your insurance company.
    If however your healthcare providers of choice are contracted, a cheaper in-kind policy may be the better option. Check with your insurance provider if they offer an in-kind policy and if this would be an attractive option. Some providers offer a combination (‘combinatie’) policy. Read more about policy types.
  • Change the level of excess: You may opt for voluntary excess (deductible or ‘eigen risico’) on top of your mandatory excess of € 385. If you go for a maximum of € 885 (€ 385 + € 500 voluntary excess) you may save 14-18% in premium (15-20 € per month) . Read Is it wise to change your level of excess in this Newsletter to see if this would be sensible to do. Read more about excess.
  • Check if there is a special discount available: Many providers offer discount of up to 10% to members of sport associations, people that are self-employed, entrepreneurs or students (if they need a mandatory health insurance). Check with your insurance provider. Generally they will be helpful to find the discount-package (‘collectiviteit’) that applies to you.
  • Opt for a yearly instead of monthly payment: if you have the about € 1.400 it will take available, you’ll save about 2% in premium. This is a return you likely won’t have at your savings account.

Coverage: All basic health insurance policies by law cover the same medical services, treatments, diagnostics and medication. Changing this package is not an option.

If these steps don’t satisfy you, you may consider changing your health insurance provider.

Changing your health insurance provider
Now that all providers have announced their premiums it may well be attractive to switch. What should you take into consideration when looking for a health insurance provider with a lower premium:

  • Does your employer offer a corporate health insurance? Sometimes  these packages are financially more attractive then what is available elsewhere, but often you will be able to find a better deal.
  • What supplementary insurance do you need? While coverage for the basic health insurance is identical for all providers, coverage and premiums for other medical services like dental, physiotherapy or alternative medicine may differ.
    So before you change, check if the other provider offers the supplementary package you need at an attractive premium, otherwise a reduced premium for the basic package may be offset by a worse deal for your supplementary insurance. Also read the article: What supplementary insurance do you really need.
  • Level of service: When your are comparing health insurance providers check reviews by their customers.
  • Check out the options, premiums and discounts other insurance providers offer for the type of policy and level of excess that you are looking for. Policy types and excess levels are described in  the article Changing your Basic Health Insurance.

Is it wise to change your level of excess?
If you have been living for some time in the Netherlands, you should be able to check how much healthcare providers have charged you (or in most cases your insurance provider directly). Your insurance provider should be able to provide you with the total of claims made under your policy.

It should also be indicated what costs are subject to excess. These were cost you have ended up paying yourself to the maximum of your excess level. Read more about excess and an example how this works in practice.

If you expect that the level of claims for 2019 will not be (much) higher than the level of your current excess, it may be attractive to opt for a higher level of excess.

Example

  • if your current level of excess is 385 € and
  • the total claims subject to excess in 2018 were 450 €
  • You’ll save € 175 (= 240 € - € 65) in 2019 if you opt for the maximum level of excess (€ 885): You'll save 240 € in premium (assumption) but will have to pay the extra costs not covered (450 € - € 385 = € 65)

Beware however: You cannot predict for sure what may happen to you. If you  incur considerable higher costs of healthcare, you should be able to pay the additional charges of € 500, being the difference between the maximum excess (€ 885) and the mandatory excess (€ 385). If other family members (over 18 years in age) are also insured on your policy your 'risk' increases as they all may have more healthcare cost that predicted.  You can also opt for a lower level of voluntary excess in steps from 100 € to 500 €. Read more about the total costs of healthcare and insurance you and your family may incur.

Some insurance providers offer coverage for the mandatory excess.

What supplementary insurance do you really need?
If you have supplementary insurance, you may ask your self if you need to be covered for all situations included in the package. For instance, you may be interested in coverage for physiotherapy, but the package you have may also cover contraceptives, glasses and alternative treatment, in which you are not particularly interested. Check if your insurance provider has a package that just covers physiotherapy.

You may also check if the premium you pay for the supplementary package is likely to save you costs. For instance a typical insurance for dental care will cost you 240 € per year and covers up to 500 € in cost. If you have strong teeth and just have 1 or 2 checks per year and maybe a simple filling, the charges you will incur are most likely less than your premium. At the same time, if you really face some serous dental work, 500 € won’t get you far.

So just check if in your case the potential benefits outweigh the premium. Of course, Dental insurance may very well be of value in your particular situation, for instance if you regularly have yearly dental costs that exceed the annual premium of if you have children that may need orthodontics as this often requires one of parents to have a dental package.

Read more about options for supplementary insurance.

Other options to reduce your costs for healthcare
The cost you incur for healthcare is made up of different charges and contributions. Next to premiums, personal contributions and the deductibles (‘eigen risico’) there are the cost you incur for those health care services, medication or medical aids your insurance does not cover.

  • Check if your health insurance provider (or any other for that matter) offers a supplementary insurance that partly covers those costs. Be aware however that a provider has no obligation to accept you for a supplementary insurance. Read more about options for supplementary insurance.
  • If you have a low (family) income  you may be eligible for a healthcare benefit (‘Zorgtoeslag’) that covers part of the premium of your health insurance.
  • Some Healthcare cost above an income dependent threshold are deductible from your income tax