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Forum Highlights Role of Private Sector in Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Europe
Date:10/31/2007

lies afford coverage. The proposal was credited with jump starting a renewed discussion about how to achieve universal coverage in the U.S.

Willem Van Duin, who presented at today's forum, is a Member of the Executive Board of Eureko BV, the parent organization of The Netherlands' largest health insurer, Achmea Health. He described the new system in his country, adopted in 2006, in which all residents are required to purchase health insurance offered by private insurance companies. Individuals are permitted to switch health plans every year. Groups, including employer groups, are eligible for discounts of up to 10 percent. Care is provided by private doctors and hospitals.

Daniel Schmutz, who also presented at the forum, is CFO & a Member of the Executive Board of Helsana, the largest health insurance company in Switzerland. The Swiss system, which does not include a role for employers, provides coverage to all residents through private health insurance, with care provided at public and private hospitals and by mostly private doctors. There is a standard benefit package, but individuals choose from different coverage plans where premiums, deductibles, and provider networks vary. Individuals contribute a significant amount to the monthly premiums, and the government subsidizes premiums for low income individuals. General taxation and pension funds cover the remaining costs.

Both Van Duin and Schmutz emphasized that innovation and choice have been the hallmarks of systems that rely on the private sector to achieve universal coverage. They also emphasized that there is a high level of consumer satisfaction with these systems.

Many U.S. policymakers and some in the media believe all European countries that have achieved universal coverage have "Canadian-like" systems, when, in fact, some have used the exact opposite approach, and some have used mixed models, according to Kaiser Chairman George Halvorson. Mr. Halvorson is also chairman of AHIP
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SOURCE America's Health Insurance Plans
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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