Medical specialists back price ceiling on life-extending treatment

A majority of the Netherlands’ medical specialists believe the healthcare system will become too expensive unless a maximum is set for spending on patients with terminal conditions, according to a new survey.

In total, over 2,200 specialists took part in the research for television current affairs show EenVandaag. Seven out of 10 told researchers they support a price ceiling.

One in six currently admits to providing patients with treatment which costs more than €80,000 a year. That limit was recommended by the national health council in 2006 but never put into practice because of politicians’ reluctance to tackle such a controversial subject.

Independent commission

Six out of ten specialists polled for the show would not make recommendations about how high the ceiling should be and 75% think an independent commission should take the decision.

’We were terrified of the discussion. I hope my successors in The Hague have more guts that I had back then,’ former finance minister Wouter Bos told the programme. Bos is now head of the VU University teaching hospital.

Bos now supports a price ceiling even though it means some people are no longer treated, EenVandaag said. Current health minister Edith Schippers is on holiday and did not respond to the survey.

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