Billion-euro boon to Health Min. on cheaper drugs, care
Spending in healthcare is rising more slowly than expected, reports Volkskrant. Last year, the care cost two billion euros less than planned, mainly as a result of cheaper prescription drugs and declining costs of hospitalization, the paper said. A decline in the cost of drugs is likely a result of the so-called preference policy. Doctors are now instructed to prioritize cheaper generic drugs to their more expensive branded alternatives when issuing prescriptions. Similarly, cuts enforced by the Health Ministry adopted over the last two governments are starting to have an effect. Reductions in the number of beds in mental care institutions were among the most noticed cuts. It was also agreed that not all hospitals would continue providing all kinds of treatments that they currently offer, but rather specialize in specific types of care. This is expected to enhance efficiency in hospital care, the cabinet argued. There government also tightened the limit on the possible increase in expenditures of healthcare institutions. It was initially expected that spending on healthcare would rise to 87 billion euros by 2017. This year, however, it was already reduced to 75 billion. Since current minister Edith Schippers took office, the government has contained the growth of healthcare costs by around 12 billion, according to the estimates.