How is enrollees' trust in health insurers associated with choosing health insurance?

PLoS One. 2023 Nov 2;18(11):e0292964. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0292964. eCollection 2023.


In a healthcare system based on managed competition, health insurers are intended to be the prudent buyers of care on behalf of their enrollees. Equally, citizens are expected to be critical consumers when choosing a health insurance policy. The choice of a health insurance policy may be related to trust in the health insurer, as enrollees must believe that the health insurer will make the right choices for them when it comes to purchasing care. This study aims to investigate how enrollees' trust in health insurers is associated with their choice of a health insurance policy in the Netherlands. We will focus on the switching behaviour of enrollees and the choice of a policy with restrictive conditions. In February 2022, a questionnaire was sent to a representative sample regarding gender and age of the adult Dutch population. In total 1,125 enrollees responded, a response rate of 56%. Respondents were asked about the choices they made in choosing health insurance. Trust in health insurers was measured using the Health Insurer Trust Scale (HITS), a validated multiple item scale. Descriptive statistics, a paired t-test and logistic regression models were conducted to analyse the results. Of all respondents, 35% indicated that they agree, or completely agree, with the statement that they trust health insurers completely. In addition, trust in enrollees' own insurer is slightly higher than trust in other insurers (36.29 vs. 33.59, p<0.001). Furthermore, we found no significant associations between trust in health insurers, and whether enrollees have either switched health insurers or have chosen a policy with restrictive conditions. This study showed that enrollees' trust in health insurance in the Netherlands is relatively low and that trust in their own insurer is slightly higher than trust in other insurers. Furthermore, this study does not show a relationship between trust in health insurers and, either switching health insurers, or choosing a policy with restrictive conditions. Nevertheless, attention for increasing the trust in health insurers might still be important, as low trust may have negative consequences for other elements of the functioning of the healthcare system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Insurance Carriers*
  • Insurance, Health
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust*

Grants and funding

The data collection of this study was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.