Patients avoid hospitals because of high costs, own risk payments
Patients are increasingly likely to ignore doctors' advice to see hospital specialists or have x-rays because of the cost, according to a survey of 1,000 family doctors.
The family doctors' association research shows patients think the cost of visiting a specialist is too high.
Everyone in the Netherlands has to pay the first EUR 360 of their medical bills every year, but some people have raised their own risk to up to EUR 860.
In total, 94 percent of the doctors polled said they had patients who said they could not afford to follow up on advice and 71 percent said they were confronted by such a situation at least once a week.
The situation was similar last year, when patients were found to be reluctant to visit psychologists or physiotherapists because of the cost.
But now hospital care is also being avoided, the LNV research showed.
Meanwhile, health minister Edith Schippers came under fire in parliament on Tuesday over the problems facing patients when they think their hospital bills are too high.
In particular MPs are demanding the health service regulator NZa publish the results of its investigation into overcharging at the St Antonius hospital in Nieuwegein.
Inflated hospital invoices are believed to have cost patients and health insurers EUR 25 million.
However, the NZa refused to involve the public prosecution department in the investigation, saying the fraud – which involved people spending two hours in a hospital bed being charged for a full day - was not deliberate.
The NZa, whose director recently resigned after it was revealed he accepted foreign trips paid for by drugs companies, is refusing to publish the results of its investigation.
Schippers has promised that patients will soon be given copies of their hospital bills so they can check if the amount they have to pay is correct.
Last year, the NZa warned health insurance companies they face fines if they fail to check that hospital bills are accurate or inflated.
The warning followed the case of a hospital in Terneuzen which charged an insurance company EUR 1,066.73 for removing ear wax, describing the process as a 'microscoptic ear clean' and 'removing polyps'.
A year earlier, the same treatment cost EUR 110.