Waiting lists and travelling times mount following abortion clinic bankruptcy

Effective skin cancer treatment no longer being made after patent expired

The bankruptcy of abortion clinic chain Casa means women are having to wait longer and travel longer distances for an abortion, the NRC reported on Friday. The closure of the seven Casa clinics, which carried out half the abortions performed in the Netherlands every year, means Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Maastricht no longer have a specialist unit. Women are now travelling to Roermond, Utrecht and Groningen for the operation as waiting lists double to up to two weeks in places. 'We are doing what we can, but it has to be done safely and there needs to be a bed,' Thea Schipper, director of the clinic in Heemstede told the NRC. 'I have taken on two extra receptionists because the phone does not stop ringing.' Capacity Health minister Bruno Bruins told parliament last week that the remaining seven specialist clinics in the Netherlands would be able to absorb the fall out from the bankruptcy. While in the short term this may be possible, in the long term a clinic which carries out 3,000 abortions a year cannot carry out a further 1,800 on top, Schipper said. Low rate Some 30,800 abortions are carried out in the Netherlands on an annual basis and around12.5% are carried out on women who live abroad where the rules are more restrictive. However, the rate of abortions compared to live pregnancies is still one of the lowest in the world at 8.6 per 1000. Most procedures involved women aged 25 to 30 years old and in around one in 20 terminations, the foetus had been diagnosed with a serious medical condition.  More >

Cancer survival rates rise sharply

Effective skin cancer treatment no longer being made after patent expired Cancer survival rates in the Netherlands have gone up across the board, the Dutch cancer centre IKNL said on Thursday. In the 1960s, 64% of people with cancer died within five years but survival rates have now doubled, the IKNL said. There has also been a sharp rise in 10-year survival rates. The results are based on information in the Dutch cancer register, which records all Dutch diagnoses. For example, the five-year breast cancer survival rate has risen from 56% to 88% while for colon cancer the rate has gone up from 40% to 52%. There has also been progress among forms of cancer which were almost always fatal - the five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer has risen from 0 to 9%. The research also shows that younger patients have better survival rates than the elderly. This is because they are better able to withstand intensive courses of treatment and are less likely to have complications, such as heart problems or diabetes, the centre said. Early detection is also key to survival rates and the centre is calling for more preventative testing and better treatment in specialist cancer centres.  More >

Top-up health insurance policies 'at risk'

Effective skin cancer treatment no longer being made after patent expired Dutch health insurance companies must continue to modernize their operations and risk management to ensure their long-term solidity, the central bank said on Tuesday. In particular, the future of top-up policies, which cover treatment not included in the government-determined basic policy – is in doubt, the central bank said in a report on the future of the Dutch health insurance market. The top up policies, which cover dental care, more physiotherapy and alternative medicine, are commercial products and insurance companies are free to set their own prices and conditions. When the new health insurance system was introduced in 2006, 93% of policy holders took out additional insurance but that figure has now fallen to 84%. 'We notice a trend that clients are becoming more cautious. In other words, they will only choose a supplemental insurance when they know they will use specific healthcare, such as physiotherapy or dental treatments,' said Koen Kuijper, spokesman for health insurance comparison website ZorgWijzer.nl. 'As a result, supplemental insurances are becoming far less profitable for insurance companies than ever before.' Insurance companies are now keeping the prices artificially low and some are already making a loss on their supplementary policies, the central bank said. Contracts The central bank recommends insurers agree multi-year contracts with providers, do more in terms of prevention and advice, and use data more cleverly. At the same time, the government should make it possible for insurers to offer multiple year policies so that investment in prevention pays off. The bank says that increased solvency requirements, falling income and the use of reserves - €5.5 bn in the past few years - to soften premium hikes have taken their toll on insurers capital surpluses. With healthcare costs set to mount in the coming years, it is increasingly important for insurance companies to ensure their operations are sustainable, the bank says. Have your say about healthcare in the Netherlands - take part in a confidential survey by the non-profit foundation ICAP.  More >

'Healthy' smoker signs up for tobacco case

Effective skin cancer treatment no longer being made after patent expired A 25-year-old 'healthy' woman who has smoked since the age of 15 is the latest person to attempt to sue the big tobacco companies operating in the Netherlands for causing her serious physical harm. Charlotte Pelt says she has been addicted to smoking for 10 years and that this is not her fault because 'addiction is an illness,' the AD reported on Friday. 'It is not my fault that I am addicted,' the law student said. 'If you are young, you are not concerned about what it is doing to you. I started at a school party when I was 14 or 15. Lots of older pupils were already smokers... the tobacco industry wants to make people addicted to earn money.' The mass action law suit aims to prove that the big tobacco firms have deliberately tried to get people addicted as quickly as possible - which is a criminal act. It was launched in 2016 by lawyer Benedicte Ficq and cancer victim Anne Marie van Veen, who argue that tobacco firms have lied to smokers about the damaging side effects of their addiction. This is partly due to the use of cigarettes that give false readings in test results through the use of tiny ventilation holes in filters. Dutch cancer charity KWF has also joined in the campaign. 'Experts say that that addiction bears all the hallmarks of a disease,' Ficq told the AD. 'Charlotte Pelt is not healthy because she is addicted. Smokers seldom admit this, which makes her complaint all the more notable. Smokers usually agree with the tobacco industry line that smoking is a choice and that you can stop when you want to.' The public prosecution department has not yet decided whether the tobacco firms have a case to answer to in the Netherlands. Although there have been several prosecutions for damages in the the US, the Dutch case would be the first involving a criminal prosecution.  More >

'Consumers can save on health insurance'

Effective skin cancer treatment no longer being made after patent expired Three in four people could save money by switching health insurance company before the end of the year, the Dutch consumers authority ACM and national health council NZ said on Friday. There are savings averaging €100 per year per person to be made without changing the basic provisions of the policy, the organisations say, based on their own research. Every year, some 6% of the population changes policy in the year-end window. 'Switching health insurer ensures a dynamic market and keeps insurance companies on their toes,' ACM director Chris Fonteijn said, while admitting that comparing policies can be time consuming. Consumers have until the end of December to cancel their current policy and up to the end of January to choose a new one. Earlier this month, the Dutch consumers association Consumentenbond said some health insurance companies are cloning basic health insurance policies and offering them for different prices under different labels. Around 1,000 different healthcare policies are currently being offered by 50 different insurance companies and this is creating a policy jungle, the organisation said. Achmea, for example, has five identical policies on offer, ranging in price from €105.50 to €119.45 a month. VGZ has six cloned policies with the lowest price set at €109.84 and the highest €122.20. The government determines the make-up of the basic policy but health insurance companies are supposed to compete on price and on conditions – such as free choice of healthcare provider. The International Community Advisory Platform is carrying out a new survey on healthcare in the Netherlands from the point of view of international workers and their families. Here's your chance to say what you think about doctors, health insurance and hospitals.  More >