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The extent and limits of solidarity in Dutch health care

Solidarity and equal access are twin principles in the Dutch health care system: solidarity between the rich and poor and among people with high and low risks formally guarantees equal access to health care services. However, in the past few years government policies, guided by the ideology of market reform and free choice, have resulted in patterns of inequality that favour privately insured over sickness fund insured. In the meantime, the level of public support for the principles of solidarity and equal access is dropping. A significantly larger portion of the Dutch people now believes that it would be too costly to grant everyone the right to all medical treatments possible. An important reason for the decline of solidarity and equal accessibility is the scarcity of resources. The scarcity of resources and the waiting lists resulting from it will reduce the extent of the benefits package and the access to the care services of the health system. The better-off will have the resources to receive care services that are not part of the basic package. Moreover, the scarcity of resources will affect the readiness in society to provide informal care. Opposed to the compulsory macro solidarity of the health insurance system, informal care is based on a voluntary kind of solidarity in which personal choice plays an important role. Waiting lists and diminishing professional support weaken this readiness, as such support is a necessary condition for informal carers to keep caring for their relatives and friends. Because the informal care system is a necessary supplement to the formal system of care, the lack of help offered by the latter will in the end endanger the solidarity not only in informal care, but in the institutional care system as well.

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International Journal of Social Welfare

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Web of science - exported 12/7/2016
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