Monday, January 19, 2009

Aukje de Vries' Diary Day 2

Answered some e-mails this morning and did some work to prepare for a teleconference that we will have coming Friday with the members of the Executive Committee of a new European organisation that we have recently set up. In Brussels there are many umbrella organisations representing citizens with special interests such as women, older people handicapped people, homeless people, people on low incomes etc. They make their voice heard to the European Commission and the European Parliament. We now also want a special organisation representing (informal) carers. I put “informal” between parentheses, because carers themselves don’t want to be called informal, but without that extra word people may think I am talking about paid carers, which is not the case. This is about unpaid carers, mostly family members. It is quite a struggle to get such an organisation set up and finding financial support.

Today seems to be called “Blue Monday” the most depressing day of the year. The weather is deplorable indeed. It clears up a bit in the afternoon. I go out for a walk, which I try to do every day. I live in The Hague not too far from the North Sea. By the time I reach the beach it rains again and I take a bus home.

I spend some time trying to find out what my contribution to the mandatory Health Care Insurance Scheme is going to be this year. I had expected it would be easy to find this on the internet, but no. I had to finally send an e-mail to the organisation that is supposed to provide such information on government schemes and they gave me the link where I could find the answer. It turns out that in 2009 I will have to pay 4.8% over my state pension (called AOW) and 6.9% over my occupational pension. Should I have an annual income that is higher than €32,369* I do not have to pay over the amount above the €32,369.

This means that I will have to pay about € 165 a month for the basic package of the health insurance, which will be taken out of my pensions before they are paid to me. But this is not all. Our health care insurance has been privatised and the insurance companies are supposed to compete. They also charge a premium directly to their clients and their prices vary, but not to a great extent. Most of them charge an amount around € 1000.- a year. In my case my insurance company charges me € 87,75 a month. All insurance companies are obliged to provide the basic package of health care to all their clients. The government decides annually on the contents of this basic package. Insurance companies cannot refuse to accept people for the basic package, no matter how bad their condition is. This requirement is acceptable to the insurance companies because the government also pays them out of the monies that are levied on our income (in the case of pensioners the 4.8% and the 6.9%). The insurers receive amounts that are related to the characteristics of their clients. If they have very many older or handicapped persons they get more money from the government.

The basic package for which we are all insured in The Netherlands is said to comprise about 90% of all health care. Some essential treatments such as dental care are not included, and what is important for many older persons: physiotherapy is only included for very few treatments. So all insurance companies have additional insurance policies for what is not included in the basic package, and it is here that they can make a profit. They can refuse the “bad risks”, they can include in their packages whatever they like and decide on the price. My additional insurance costs € 26,25 a month, so in all I pay € 114.- monthly to the insurance company. Together with the premiums taken out of my pension for the health care insurance it adds up to € 279 a month.

* € 1.- equals at this moment approximately US $ 1,29

1 comment:

  1. DearAukje,

    thank you for your Blog and all these interesting details about the Health Care Insurance Scheme in your own Country!

    As a European, I find it really important to be aware of how other countries of the EU deal with this issue. I like the way you speak about it!

    an I like reading all your stories and anecdotes as well!