One in three Dutch people postpone or skip medical visits in order to save costs. Among young people between the ages of 18 and 29, this is even two out of three. This is evident from research by MSI Consultants. ‘The question is whether so much care for the elderly does justice to young people,’ says Rabobank director of health care, Michel van Schaik.
This concerns, for example, (unplanned) visits to a doctor or hospital. Many Dutch people also save on the purchase of medicines and food. Van Schaik is ‘shocked’ by the figures. “I can’t bear to think of my own children putting off a doctor’s visit because they can’t afford it.”
Although no costs are charged for a visit to the GP, many young people from the age of eighteen have to pay the costs for the dentist themselves. There is also often a maximum on the number of visits to a physiotherapist and many medicines also have to be paid for yourself. “Those are costs that cut into it. This also has to do with the disposable income of students. That is under pressure, just like with many other Dutch people.’ These are, ‘cynically enough’, the consequences of the ‘ever-increasing costs of health care’, says Van Schaik.
In many cases, students will also opt for the most affordable health insurance policy, with a high deductible. They will also pay a lot themselves for a visit to the dentist. ‘That is, on the one hand, very understandable. And on the other hand, it just becomes a calculation when a problem arises and the costs have to be paid for yourself.’
According to Van Schaik, ‘understandably’ a lot of money goes to care for the elderly. ‘Old age comes with defects, we can heal and repair a lot these days. But the question is whether this also does justice to young people from a general interest point of view, Van Schaik wonders. “Young people have their whole lives ahead of them. If you could encourage those young people to seek help in time if they really need it, you could also save a lot of healthcare costs and human suffering in the longer term. As a society you benefit much more from that.’
A shift in attention from the elderly to the young is partly a political choice, says Van Schaik. ‘We also need to understand why these young people do not seek help. That is often a very complex issue,’ he thinks. There is no single solution for this, he says. ‘Young people are often under great pressure, as a result of studies, work, loneliness. And in the worst cases, debts and drug addictions.’