‘Making a profit does not have to be the wrong incentive’

Rising healthcare costs, staff shortages and cowboys enriching themselves with exorbitant profit payments: problems in healthcare are receiving full attention. The idea of leaving things to market forces is drawing increasing criticism. Time to think about a new system? Absolutely not, says Prof. Marco Varkevisser, professor of Market Regulation in Healthcare.

1 January 2006. Expectations are high when VVD minister Hans Hoogervorst introduces the long-awaited market forces in healthcare when implementing the new Health Insurance Act. The new system aims to curb ever-increasing costs and put an end to excessively long waiting lists. 

Ever since 2001, a group of scientists from Erasmus University, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, has been thinking about market forces in the healthcare system. What regulations are necessary to ensure that public interests in healthcare are safeguarded? 

One of the scientists involved is economist Marco Varkevisser. He specializes in 'difficult sectors', branches where public interests clash with the functioning of the free market. On the eve of the system reform, he focuses for the first time on the economics of healthcare, a research field to which he has committed himself ever since. 

Varkevisser has been studying the interface between market forces and government intervention for twenty years now. In 2017, he was appointed as professor of Market Regulation in Healthcare at Erasmus University. The professorship is not something he prides himself on: “you notice that other people occasionally attribute something to you because of the term professor. Then I think: hey, I don't have a monopoly on wisdom,” says Varkevisser in a T-shirt and jeans in a lunch room in Voorhout. 

He spent his childhood on the grounds of an institution for the mentally handicapped in Noordwijk, less than half an hour by bike from where he now lives. "It was fantastic, there was a pool opposite our house where you could always swim," he recounts. Both of his parents were employed by the healthcare institution, which housed some of the staff on the property. His brother and sister are working there now, counselling clients and as a manager. 

Read the entire (Dutch) article on the website of Follow the Money.  

Professor

Prof.dr. Marco Varkevisser

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This article was published on August 14, 2021 on the website of Follow the Money.

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