What is a government for? The question springs to mind with the news that insurers are planning to charge people with an unhealthy lifestyle a higher premium or leave them to pay medical bills themselves.

Putting insurance firms in charge of healthcare was the idea of former health minister, with the proviso that the government would determine what went into the basic package.
Now his successor Ab Klink is continuing to dismantle the health service and agrees with the insurers that smokers, drinkers and unhealthy eaters should be punished.
But isn’t it the job of a government to protect the most vulnerable in society? And who are the most likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle – the most vulnerable. So shouldn’t the government do something about the causes of an unhealthy lifestyle?
Klink also wants to turn hospitals into ‘social enterprises’ and allow them to make profits. Meanwhile justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin wants this system for other public institutions.
But again, surely a government is there to provide these public services and to ensure the less well-off are provided with decent housing, education and healthcare. Apparently not in the brave new world of privatisation and profit that is the Netherlands today. The trend is an abnegation of governmental responsibility.

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