Anger as nursing homes charge extra for fruit and toilet paper

A growing number of care and nursing homes are charging residents extra for items such as fruit, accompanied walks and toilet paper, even though they are fully covered by insurance, Nos tv reported at the weekend.

The Dutch health authority NZA receives dozens of complaints a week about mistakes in bills, and has called on homes to get their finances in order or face fines. Spokeswoman Annemiek van der Laan told Nos the extra charges are ‘scandalous’.
Some patients are being charged extra for coffee, soft drinks and snacks, others are billed for having a tv connection in their room, or having an extra shower. One patient was even charged for the disposable gloves and disinfectant used by nurses, Nos said.
Aad Koster, the director of care home association Actiz, called for greater clarity about what care homes are allowed to charge extra for.
The level of service is currently determined by the insurance council CVZ but the fee is set by the NZA, he pointed out. And fees are being cut by 8% from January 2011.
Labour and Liberal MPs have demanded caretaker health minister Ab Klink take action about the extra fees. Some 260,000 people live in some form of care home.
The AWBZ is a compulsory insurance for everyone in the Netherlands which covers the cost of long term and home nursing.
Some 600,000 people are currently using AWBZ-funded services, which cost some €22bn a year. Everyone pays 12% of their gross income a month in premiums.

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