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ZIN’s Rulings: MR-linac Radiotherapy Denied Insurance Reimbursement, HIFU Treatment Greenlit

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In December 2023, the Dutch Healthcare Institute (ZIN) made significant announcements regarding the coverage and reimbursement of certain medical treatments. These updates are particularly relevant for patients and healthcare professionals alike.

On December 12, 2023, the ZIN unveiled its position on the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in patients diagnosed with essential tremor, a neurological condition characterized by involuntary and rhythmic shaking of certain body parts. According to the ZIN’s assessment, HIFU treatment is eligible for reimbursement under basic health insurance. However, there are specific criteria that must be met for coverage to apply. This coverage is reserved for patients who have moderate to severe essential tremors, individuals who have not responded effectively to standard medication, and those who are not suitable candidates for deep brain stimulation, another treatment option for essential tremors. Importantly, this decision is retroactive, as reimbursement for HIFU treatment will be applicable from August 5, 2022.


Denied Insurance Reimbursement and Patients’ Quest for Alternative Funding Options

In a separate announcement made on November 28, 2023, the ZIN addressed the issue of radiotherapy conducted using a magnetic resonance linear accelerator (MR-linac). This advanced technology combines real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with precise radiotherapy, potentially offering improved treatment outcomes for cancer patients. However, the ZIN concluded that MR-linac radiotherapy does not meet the criteria for reimbursement under basic health insurance in the Netherlands. The primary reason for this decision is the lack of sufficient evidence to establish that MR-linac, as a technical variant of existing radiotherapy methods, delivers significantly more precise treatment and results in fewer side effects. Consequently, patients seeking MR-linac radiotherapy will need to explore alternative funding options or consider other treatment modalities.

These updates from the Dutch Healthcare Institute are crucial for patients and healthcare providers as they guide decisions on treatment options, insurance coverage, and access to innovative medical technologies, ultimately shaping the landscape of healthcare in the Netherlands.


Resource: Med Tech Reimbursement Consulting, January 02, 2023

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