Cost-control and medical specialist payment: the Dutch alternative.Int J Health Plann Manage. 1998 Jan-Mar; 13(1):69-82.IJ
The fee-for-service system is a growing problem for insurers and governments. The main reason for this is the open-ended character of this system which makes cost-control a very difficult task. The pressures on the fee-for-service system are becoming more pronounced, especially in countries such as Canada, Germany and the Netherlands which use budget restrictions on national health care expenditure (macro caps). In these countries policy makers are searching for an alternative payment system and an appropriate definition of a corresponding status for doctors. The alternative, however, does not have to lead automatically to a salaried status of doctors in the hospital organization. The Dutch experience of the change of the payment system for medical specialists illustrates the transition to a new 'negotiated order'. The introduction of the 'lump sum' and the sub-contractor relationship with the insurance companies leaves the organizational autonomy of medical specialists intact. In exchange the medical specialists cooperate with the insurers in trying to control the costs of health care. In this process of strategic change, two factors are very significant, i.e. the new leadership of the local medical specialists and the governmental 'circumvention' of the powerful associations of doctors and insurers.