More undocumented migrants are relying on the healthcare system even though they are barred from taking out insurance.
The CAK, the agency that administers healthcare-related benefits, said the number of claims made by uninsured migrants increased by 30% in the last year.
Researchers and community agencies said the problem is linked to long-stay migrants who need more care as they get older.
Often they delay seeking medical help because of their illegal status, with the result that their condition worsens and they need more extensive treatment.
“More and more older people are turning to community medics in the homeless accommodation system and they often need complex treatment,” Richard Staring, researcher at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, said.
People living in the Netherlands without documents are entitled to the equivalent of the basic state insurance package, even though they are unable to take out insurance because they have no registered address.
Care providers submit their invoices to the CAK, which covers 80% of the costs under a special regulation for uninsured non-nationals. The cost of this cover was €51.4 million in 2022, compared to €43 million in 2019.
Lack of access
Community doctor Fleur de Meijer, who works at the Pauluskerk in Rotterdam, said undocumented residents were being excluded from healthcare because of other pressures on the system.
Many doctors’ practices have stopped admitting new patients, making it harder for people in urgent need of medical care to access it. “Because they don’t have a fixed address or doctor they can register with, it’s difficult to give them preventive treatment,” De Meijer told NOS.
“That makes the problems worse and the cost of care higher. Chronically ill older people in particular need to be registered with a medical practice.”
Up to 58,000 people are estimated to be living in the Netherlands without authorisation, some of whom have been in the country for decades.
Researchers distinguish between failed asylum seekers who never returned, so-called “adventurers” and “investers”, usually from Asia or South America, who take illegal, unregulated jobs so they can send money home to their families. The last group includes an estimated 15,000 Brazilians living in Amsterdam.
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