The new cut backs in the health care insurance package for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba has the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament worried, and in particular the Socialist Party (SP). This writes The Daily Herald. The Senate will further analyse these adaptations which mainly affect physical therapy and dental care.
The First Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations met on Tuesday on the request of SP Senator Nanneke Quik-Schuijt to discuss the revised health care insurance package that Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers has announced for January 1, 2015.
The minister confirmed her decision in an October 31, 2014, reply to written questions posed by SP Member of the Second Chamber Ronald van Raak who feared that the restrictions on the covering of physical therapy by the health care insurance would hurt the islands’ residents, especially those with a lower income.
Quik-Schuijt said the answers by the minister were “unsatisfactory” and merited further analysing. The Senate has been on top of the issue of health care insurance in the Caribbean Netherlands and discussed this various times with Schippers. The Senate is worried about the effects of Schippers’ decision.
Covered by the insurance per January 1, 2015, will be physical therapy for rehabilitation purposes, physical therapy for youngsters up to the age of 18, youngsters with a chronic illness and physical therapy for the pelvis in case of bladder incontinence. A maximum has been set for most of these categories. Adults with a chronic disease have to pay the first twenty treatments themselves after which the insurance will cover the rest. All other physical therapy treatment will have to be paid for, explained Schippers in her letter. She stated that the insurance package would be more in line with the basic package in the Netherlands. The cut backs would serve to keep the increasing cost of health on the islands in check.
According to Quik-Schuijt the reason for the cut backs was not fair because the situation on the islands was very different from that in the Netherlands. “People on the islands cannot take additional insurance as is the case in the Netherlands,” she told The Daily Herald on Tuesday. The Senator also pointed out that people earned less and that there is more poverty than in the Netherlands. “Most people cannot afford to pay these additional costs,” she said. Schippers noted in her letter that contrary to the Netherlands, people on the islands didn’t have to pay an own risk or nominal premium. Quik-Schuijt said there was a real risk that physical therapy would disappear on St. Eustatius and Saba as there would not be enough work for the visiting therapists. Schippers denied this. She stated in her letter that rehabilitation physical therapy would remain available at the hospitals on all three islands. She didn’t share the view of the SP party that it was “irresponsible” to partly eliminate physical therapy from the health care insurance package. The cut backs will have counter-productive consequences, said Quik-Schuijt. “In the end it will only cost more money, savings will be undone because it will cause other problems. People who can’t get proper health care will be unfit to work for a longer period,” she said. Quik-Schuijt said she was also keen to hear from the minister about the effects of the revised package on dental care and to get an update on the dental sanitation that started a few years ago to get rid of people’s backlog in dental care.
The fact that there is no free dental care for children is storing up real problems for the future.
What are people supposed to do in an emergency? Will there still be a visiting dentist available?
Islanders are not in a position to pick up the telephone and call a local dentist – there are none.
Do we now need to get $160 return flight to St Maarten, plus taxi to even get to where a dentist is available?
With regard to physio, surely this is the wrong way around and that so many treatments should be free initially to complete the treatment and then pay after so many sessions. Why treat someone and then tell them they will only get better if they pay for physio?
What will happen is that physio will not take place and people will just go back again and again to the doctor complaining of chronic pain, which in turn will cost more than completing treatment.