Objectives: In 2000, the first "Dutch Manual for Costing: METHODS and Reference Prices for Economic Evaluations in Healthcare" was published, followed by an updated version in 2004. The purpose of the Manual is to facilitate the implementation and assessment of costing studies in economic evaluations. New developments necessitated the publication of a thoroughly updated version of the Manual in 2010. The present study aims to describe the main changes of the 2010 Manual compared with earlier editions of the Manual.
Methods: New and updated topics of the Manual were identified. The recommendations of the Manual were compared with the health economic guidelines of other countries, eliciting strengths and limitations of alternative methods.
Results: New topics in the Manual concern medical costs in life-years gained, the database of the Diagnosis Treatment Combination (DBC) casemix System, reference prices for the mental healthcare sector and the costs borne by informal care-givers. Updated topics relate to the friction cost method, discounting future effects and options for transferring cost results from international studies to the Dutch situation.
Conclusions: The Action Plan is quite similar to many health economic guidelines in healthcare. However, the recommendations on particular aspects may differ between national guidelines in some respects. Although the Manual may serve as an example to countries intending to develop a manual of this kind, it should always be kept in mind that preferred methods predominantly depend on a country's specific context.