Minister tells doctors and patients to come up with health cuts

Doctors’ and patients’ organisations should come up with their own proposals for reducing the size of the basic health insurance package, health minister Edith Schippers said on Sunday.

The health ministry has to shave €1.5bn from the cost of the basic policy package as part of the government’s spending cuts.

Suggestions on how to do this by the health service advisory board – including cutting payments for psychiatric care and stopping funding expensive treatments for rare diseases – have been condemned by doctors and patients.

Every time the CvZ advisory body makes a suggestion ‘the world explodes’, Schippers told television current affairs show Buitenhof. ‘Everyone says “you really can’t do that”.’

Doctors’ and patients’ organisations have welcomed the move, Nos television said. ‘There is support among doctors and patients to solve this together,’ a spokesman for doctors’ organisation KNMG said.

Extra payments

The basic package covers treatment which the government considers to be essential. Extra items, such as dental care, long-term physiotherapy and alternative medicine are paid for either by patients directly or top-up policies.

Earlier this month, the Dutch health authority NZa warned health insurance companies they face fines if they fail to check that hospital bills are accurate or inflated.

The warning follows the case of a hospital in Terneuzen which charged an insurance company €1,066.73 for removing ear wax, describing the process as a ‘microscoptic ear clean’ and ‘removing polyps’. A year earlier, the same treatment cost €110.

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