Case for transparency health costs Tuesday at the Council of State

This Tuesday at 10 o’clock is the start of an appeal at the Council of Stat against the refusal of the Dutch Health Authority (NZA) to provide public disclosure of all hospital charges at the request of Open State Foundation.

Health costs are not transparent

For years people and institutions, such as the General Aditor, the National Ombudsman and even the parliamentary research center, have complained about the lack of transparency about healthcare costs. Although people have every right to expect from government information about the costs of medical treatments, government has failed to increase transparency and to ensure that patients and others gain access to this crucial information. Even a parliamentary motion that was passed unanimously in parliament did not brought the necessary change.

2014: FOIA DBC Information System

Therefore, Open State Foundation, filed in March 2014 a FOIA request at the Dutch Health Authority to disclose information prices, rates and volumes of declared costs of healthcare. The request was directed to the information contained in the DBC Information System (DIS) which is under control of the Dutch Healthcare Authority. The request was refused and Open State Foundation appealed the decision. After a hearing in June 2014 and again a negative decision by the Dutch Health Authority, on November 22, 2014, assisted by FOIA expert Brenno de Winter, Open State Foundation send an appeal to the court in Amsterdam.

2015: District Court of Amsterdam

On August 27, 2015 a hearing was held at the court of Amsterdam. On October 30, 2015, the District Court of Amsterdam decided that the appeal was unfounded and that the Dutch Health Authority did not have to disclose information about health care costs per hospital. The court agreed with the Dutch Health Authority was that this information contains sensitive company information.

2015: Appeal at the Council of State

On December 10, 2015 Open State Foundation lodged an appeal at the Council of State, followed by the defense of the Dutch Health Authority at the end of January 2016. Meanwhile, after a call from the Consumers’ Association during the summer of 2016, two large health insurers, CZ and VGZ, and a number of hospitals, published rates of hospital treatments. Also people themselves through actions by the Consumers’ Association and a newspaper made prices of treatments public.

2016: Further grounds

Therefore, on November 1, 2016 additional grounds were submitted to the Council of State. Two days later, the Minister of Health sent a letter to parliament on November 3, 2016 to clarify the possibilities to increase transparency of hospital rates. On 4 November, the Dutch Healthcare Authority requested more speaking time at the forthcoming hearing at the Council of State and filed additional documents.

Tuesday, November 15 a.s. at 10.00 am the hearing will start at the Council of State in The Hague.