Health care in the Netherlands

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Dooce by Heather B. Armstrong. She and her husband are writing, on their individual blogs, about their problems with getting healthcare coverage now that they are not working for ‘the boss’ anymore. It is scary to read how people are being denied access to a service which should be basic for everybody, especially in ‘the greatest nation on earth, the USA’. It makes you think whether this could happen in the Netherlands as well. As we restructured our system this year and became more dependent on the private health insurance companies, this question has become more apparent than ever.

The healthcare system in the Netherlands has always had a complicated structure. By the first of Jan of this year, after 30 years of discussion, it has been restructured. We use to have a two way system; partly government and partly private. If your income was below a certain amount you were automatically covered by the government system (ziekenfonds as we called it). If you earned to much you went into to private system but you still had to pay for the government system. The solidarity principle as we called it.
In the new system everybody is eligible for a basic health coverage package (which is controlled by the government) which you can get from all the insurance firms. They say that you cannot be refused for basic coverage. You can only be refused for additional insurance coverage (like mental health service or a dental plan). As there is already talk of razing the insurance premium for next year, the next thing could be kicking people out who are too expensive.

As the famous Dutch soccer player Johan Cruijff always said; ‘Every disadvantage has it’s advantages’. The new health system has an advantage especially for the people who are their own boss. For instance all bloggers can form an organisation, and that organisation can make health coverage deals with the insurance companies including rebates. There is an example of groups of active Catholics who have form an organisation and have closed a deal with one of the insurers.