Judgment Council of State in case for transparency of health costs

The Dutch Health Authority does not have to make information on healthcare costs public on the basis of the Dutch freedom of information act. That is what the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of the State, the country’s highest general administrative court decided today on an appeal filed by Open State Foundation against the Dutch Health Authority that refuses to make prices of medical treatments public.

According to the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State with the requested information one can see what and how many medical treatments have been declared by hospitals to health insurers. This information has been confidentially handed over to the Dutch Health Authority. That is why according to the Council of State the freedom of information act won’t allow this information to be made public.

‘This decision makes it clear that the law has been overtaken by reality. A number of patients, citizens, healthinsurers and hospitals have already made prices public themselves. But to combat fraud and insight in the enormous health costs political action is required’, says Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation. ‘The past years we have seen that the Dutch Health Authority hasn’t moved an inch when it comes to transparency. They need help with this’.

Together with FOIA-expert, Brenno de Winter, Open State Foundation requested three years ago, the prices and volumes of medical treatments per health provider to be made public. The request and later the appeal was declined by the Dutch Health Authority. In August 2015, an appeal was filed at the District Court in Amsterdam. The court decided in October 2015 that the Dutch Health Authority shouldn’t make prices public, because the information was regarded as business secret.

Since that decision a number of health insurers, hospitals and consumers have made prices public themselves. This week together with the Dutch Consumers’ Association, a database, developed with Open State Foundation, was made public with more than 200,000 hospital prices.

Overview and documents of the case.