The government’s healthcare advisor Zorginstituut Nederland warns the system risks becoming overburdened and unaffordable unless there is a ‘rigorous change’ of approach.
‘If we do not act now, within 20 years we will be spending one third of our income on care,’ ZN chairman Sjaak Wijma said at the launch of a campaign to get people talking about what they consider to be necessary.
Difficult choices will have to be made and society at large should be involved in taking these decisions, Wijma said. ‘We want to hear what people think is important. We are going to have to reorganise the system in the coming years so it is essential that we know what people consider to be important.
The Zorginstituut has carried out a survey of some 2000 people that found 60% supported more emphasis on prevention rather than cure.
Four in 10 people think those with an unhealthy lifestyle should pay higher insurance premiums, while two in 10 say people with a healthy lifestyle should be given priority for treatment.
In addition, 80% think it should be easier to make healthy food choices, for example, by lowering taxes on fruit and vegetables and banning sweets and soft drinks from sale in schools.
Last year, the government’s scientific policy analysis unit WRR also warned that healthcare is becoming too expensive and that the government should begin preparing people for change.
Without action in 40 years time, one in three people will work in the care services, the WRR said.
The coalition government agreement includes a shift towards prevention as a strategy to stop people becoming ill in the first place, as well as measures to stop people being ‘over-treated’, or given treatment without benefits.
According to national statistics office CBS, the Netherlands spent €116 billion on healthcare in 2020.
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