Fees loom for emergency hospital visits

People visiting hospital accident and emergency departments without being referred by their doctor face an extra fee as part of efforts to cut health service spending, the Telegraaf reports on Monday.

Sources tell the paper health minister Ab Klink wants to introduce the charge to stop people going to emergency departments for non-essential treatment. The minister has a spending shortfall of almost €1bn.
Klink is also considering scrapping some treatment from the basic health insurance package. For example, he may stop the coverage for medicine to help people with stomach acid problems and slash payments for visits to psychiatrists, the paper says.
Budget cuts
On Friday the cabinet reached agreement on a €1.5bn package of cuts in the current budget and a further €1.8bn in the run-up to 2011.
But prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and finance minister Wouter Bos declined to give details, saying agreement had been reached on the main lines and a detailed proposal will be sent to parliament in the coming weeks.
Last month the government said it would invest €6bn to stimulate the economy, measures which will push the budget deficit over 5%.

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