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Dutch News
Health insurer profit doubles, central bank says 4/14/2013

Dutch health insurance companies booked combined profits of €1.4bn last year, double the 2011 figure, according to estimates from the central bank.
Health minister Edith Schippers told parliament on Wednesday there are three reasons for the increase: earnings from healthcare insurance premiums were higher, costs were lower than expected and insurers generated more income from investments.
While the increase in profits is to be welcomed, this should be passed back to customers in the form of lower premiums, the minister said. MPs are due to debate health insurance company profits later on Thursday.
Schippers has also agreed that from next year patients will be given bills detailing the cost of their treatment, following an outcry about inflated bills and fraudulent claims.
A hotline set up by the PVV resulted in 500 claims ranging from a telephone conversation resulting in a €218 bill to a three-month prescription which was charged as three separate monthly prescriptions.
Most doctors and hospitals send bills directly to the insurance company, so patients have no opportunity to check the cost of their treatment and ensure the bill is accurate.

Abortion rate continues to decline

There were 31,000 abortions carried out in the Netherlands in 2011, down around 1,000 on 2010 according to health inspectorate figures.
Half of all abortions took place in the first seven weeks of pregnancy, and in one in five cases, the pregnancy ran for at least 12 weeks, news agency ANP said.
The Netherlands has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world, at just 8.7 per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44.

Unions, employers and ministers seal ''social'' agreement on job reform

Unions, employers and the cabinet reached an agreement on Thursday night on a package of measures which they hope will lead to improvement in the labour market and job creation.
The deal was necessary because the cabinet does not have a majority in the senate and can now use this deal to gather more support from opposition MPs.
One of the most controversial aspects of the package is delaying reforms to unemployment benefit and redundancy law until 2016, by when, the government hopes, the economy will have begun to recover.
But the government has also agreed not to go ahead with a €4.3bn package of cuts designed to reduce the budget deficit to under the eurozone limit of 3% next year. This, the Financieele Dagblad states, could put the Netherlands on a collision course with Brussels.

150,000 balloons for the king are a danger to nature: green groups

Environmental groups have called on Amsterdam city council to abandon plans to release 150,000 balloons into the air at the end celebrations to mark the investiture of King Willem-Alexander.
The city’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan says the balloons are biodegradable, but the groups say it still takes considerable time before the balloons break down. In addition, the strings attached to them pose a hazard to birds and other wildlife.

The protest letter was signed by groups as diverse as Greenpeace and the government’s own forestry commission Staatsbosbeheer.

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