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Healthcare laws can kill you.
“We had been dating for 33 years and we’re married for 7 years now” he said.
The man who’s walking besides me shows a smile on his wrinkled face when he mentions his wife. A woman who visits the rehabilitation centre for a few years now because of her rheumatism and heart problems. “We had it well together”. The emphasis in his voice lay on the word ‘had’ and slowly I saw the man who walked straight up just a few minutes ago, collapse.
His smile faded from his face and suddenly it looked like he became ten years older.
His true feeling came floating to the surface and water started to appear in the corners of his eyes while he looked at the envelope in his hands and passed it to me. “Read”.
With his shoulders hanging down, he walked further while I opened the envelope and took two papers out. My eyes slowly slid along the words and our long pace became slower. Well-known terms came by. He just looked at me, like he was hoping I had the answers for him.
The last sentence of the letter said:”We believe that according to the new rules on the law of healthcare you have no more right on aid since we believe your partner is healthy enough to supply the aid himself.”
I looked beside me and heard the things his wife told me when she came to visit. “Jim has to go to the hospital again, he can hardly walk, Jim has to see the specialist again because he can hardly breathe, they took some blood again and he’s probably having cancer, Jim had another heart attack again..” and I asked myself how those people could even imagine how he was going to take care of his wife, the home and him self in this condition. I asked him when those people had come over and how they reached this conclusion.
“They rung me, asked me a lot of questions on the phone about who did the groceries, who did the gardening, who did the housekeeping and so on and I told them that besides my domestic help and the nurse who comes over, I try to do things myself when I feel okay.”
Just one phone call was enough to judge this older couple, to judge their future. “We are already taking tranquilizers and we hardly sleep because we’re afraid “
The new law on Social Care is hard. The people making these laws don’t know what’s happening in the homes of those who are sick. The social worker of the nursing home couldn’t do a thing. Her hands were tied by the government. Lots of papers were filled in, knowing it would take months before there would be an answer. In the mean time he only got two hours of help a week for the housekeeping. No help for him to help his wife when she was home. They took away the necessary aid from this man with a heart condition, rheumatism and lung cancer. Just by one phone call...
The scary part is, that he wasn’t the only one who received such a letter.
New social laws can change a lot for those who are in need of healthcare. They can change so much that people are getting in trouble; their health will deteriorate even more because of the bureaucracy with healthcare. Nowadays people behind a desk will tell you what kind of healthcare you will get and how much you need to pay for it. At least after you’ve filled out paper after paper. Personally I’m afraid of what is going to happen in 2009. We know there are going to be more cuts in healthcare here. But who will survive and who won’t…..
Jim didn’t survive. He died last night of a heart attack while he was helping his wife to get back into bed.
R.I.P now Jim.
This is about the Dutch healthcare system that has changed a lot the last few years due to all the necessary cuts according to the government and will change even more in 2009. And not for the best. The elderly and chronically ill will have to pay more and get less help. How many Jim's will there be the next year?