Dutch, Swiss Execs Discuss Health Care Reform

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America's Health Insurance Plans and Kaiser Permanente on Wednesday in Washington,D.C., held a briefing with a number of healthinsurance industry executives from the Netherlandsand Switzerlandto discuss proposals to expand coverage to all residents through the privatesector, CQ HealthBeat reports. Under health care systems in the Netherlands and Switzerland, residents must obtainhealth insurance through the private sector, and the government providessubsidies to lower-income residents. Kaiser CEO George Halvorson said that"it makes a huge amount of sense for us to understand what is going on in Europe."

AHIP President Karen Ignagni said that "there is confusion between'universal coverage' and 'government-run,'" adding that "we are fullycommitted to the concept of universal coverage" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 10/31). Willem van Duin-- executive board member of Eureko, a health insurer in theNetherlands -- said that the nation had the ability to implement health carereform because "politicians, providers, insurers" reached a consensuson the issue (Appleby, USA Today, 11/1).

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Daniel Schmutz -- CFO of Helsana, the largest health insurer in Switzerland -- said that divisions in the U.S. might notallow for such a consensus. Van Duin added that residents in the Netherlands and Switzerlandhave more willingness than those in the U.S. to pay the taxes necessary tofinance government subsidies for health insurance (CQ HealthBeat, 10/31). In addition,according to Schmutz, enforcement of a requirement that all residents obtainhealth insurance might prove difficult in the U.S. He said, "To Swiss people... it's highly accepted that the state has a central role in privatelife."

Next week, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt will visit Switzerland and the Netherlands to examine their healthcare systems (USA Today,11/1).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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