Similar to several other countries, the Netherlands implemented market-oriented health care reforms in recent years. Previous studies raised questions on the effects of these reforms on key outcomes such as quality, costs, and prices. The empirical evidence is up to now mixed. This study looked at the variation in prices, volume, and quality of cataract surgeries since the introduction of price competition in 2006. We found no price convergence over time and constant price differences between hospitals. Quality indicators generally showed positive results in cataract care, though the quality and scope of the indicators was suboptimal at this stage. Furthermore, we found limited between-hospital variation in quality and there was no clear-cut relation between prices and quality. Volume of cataract care strongly increased in the period studied. These findings indicate that health insurers may not have been able to drive prices down, make trade-offs between price and quality, and selectively contract health care without usable quality information. Positive results coming out from the 2006 reform should not be taken for granted. Looking forward, future research on similar topics and with newer data should clarify the extent to which these findings can be generalized.

Cataract surgery, Contract prices, Price, Quality of care, Regulated competition, Volume,
Health Policy
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Heijink, R, Mosca, I, & Westert, G. (2013). Effects of regulated competition on key outcomes of care: Cataract surgeries in the Netherlands. Health Policy, 113(1-2), 142–150. doi:10.1016/j.healthpol.2013.06.003