Friday, April 3, 2009

We can't understand a developed country without universal coverage

Healthcare in The Netherlands keeps getting toyed with at the national level, so this is up-to-now. It isn't completely free unless you're below a certain income, and above that, or if you're self-employed, how much you pay depends on what kind of policy you buy. Everyone is insured. With an above average income, my insurance (worldwide medical, dental, physio, repatriation, medicines, basically whatever I need) with €150/$200 annual deductable (I chose that limit) costs €1700/$2300 a year, with my employer paying half, and me getting a group discount on the rest, so that works out to something like €50/$67 a month. That's it. This includes doctor's visits, medications, physiotherapy, even things like visits to a nutritionist or a problem overseas.

But as an American, the things you always worry about are also the larger incidents. The ones I've had would have cost more than my house in the US. About 15 yesrs ago I was travelling for work in Africa and had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital, admitted overnight, tested, followed up intensively (my insurer offered to fly me home, but I took my regular flight) . The Namibian hospital phoned my Dutch insurer, and everything was arranged between them. I never even saw a bill. I saved receipts from the private doctor I saw for the rest of my stay, and was refunded that amount when I got home.

A few years later, I was visiting in Texas and had a different problem, also involving hospitals and so on. That time the hospital had a hard time processing my foreign insurance and I did see the bills (ouch), but again was able to pass them directly to my insurance company.

Then (gee, I sound like a physical wreck) a few years after that I survived a brainstem stroke. In The Netherlands. The doctor's house call, the ambulance, the time on the Stroke unit, medications, an MRI, aftercare, excellent neurologists and nursing staff -- all paid by my insurance.

The Michael Moore movie 'Sicko' is incomprehensible here. People complain about the annual fiddling with our coverage, but they can't understand a developed country without universal coverage. They go to the doctor when they're sick. They go to physios if they need them. They see the dentist routinely. They fill prescriptions.

Linda McPhee
The Netherlands

1 comment:

Daniel said...

A fair few dental patients from the Netherlands come through the website to receive cheaper a faster dental treatments.