Monday 20 September 2021

Sharp choices need to be made to keep healthcare affordable: WRR

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Netherlands needs to make clear and sharp choices if healthcare is going to remain affordable in the future, the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) said in a new report on Wednesday.

The report analyses the current healthcare system and highlights the urgent need to solve problems, many of which are not new but which have not yet been tackled.

Spending on healthcare, for example, is soaring and will probably have tripled within 40 years, as the number of frail elderly rises, and more people develop chronic disease and take up unhealthy lifestyles.

Currently, one in six to seven people work in healthcare but without action, that will reach one in four in 20 years time and one in three by 2060, the report’s authors say.

In particular, the report suggests the government do more to encourage doctors and nurses from abroad to work in the Netherlands, pointing out that the country has far fewer foreign medical staff than Germany and Belgium.

Politicians should also prepare the population at large for the fact that not all care will be offered, or paid for, in the future, the WRR says.

More should also be done to find out if particular treatment is cost effective and universal pay rises should also be abolished, the WRR suggestions.

Other investment

‘Rising healthcare costs are at the expense of investment in other areas, such as education and combating poverty,’ WRR member and professor Marianne de Visser told the NRC.

‘Over the last 20 years, spending on healthcare has doubled as a percentage of government spending, while spending on education is unchanged.’

The NRC points out that the recommendations are politically sensitive because almost every party pledged to boost spending on healthcare in their manifestos.

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