Healthcare for Internationals
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Prevention in Dutch Healthcare

Internationals are often surprised that, in the Netherlands, one is only expected to visit the GP when there is something wrong. They find preventive healthcare lacking. They are not alone in this.

In a recent study, Rabobank and the Doctor & Lifestyle Association (A&L) concluded that prevention through maintaining a healthier lifestyle is vital, but is insufficiently emphasised.

Prevention is very important, they pose, not only to the quality of life, but also to the affordability of care. A fifth of current healthcare costs, which amount to some 100 billion euros a year, is related to unhealthy behaviour.

Healthy lifestyle vital

Lifestyle covers themes such as smoking, alcohol, diet, exercise, sleep and a sense of purpose. During this corona crisis, healthy lifestyle is an especially important topic as we’re currently moving too little, drinking too much, eating unhealthily and gaining weight. Sadly, unhealthy lifestyle was already on the rise before the pandemic, causing a rise in (chronic) illness and healthcare costs.

It is therefore important to make a healthy lifestyle the norm. Not only now, but also after the crisis. This is also the view of the Dutch government, which wants to make prevention a focal point in healthcare.

Lifestyle and health

Focusing on prevention offers many advantages: greater health, better mental health, lower incapacity rates, lower healthcare costs and less pressure on the healthcare system. For example, 5 - 10% weight loss can already lead to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and the risk of diabetes type 2 is halved. The immune system, too, improves, making us more resilient when it comes to infectious diseases such as the corona virus.

Research shows that many care providers recognise the added value of prevention, but don’t always view this as their responsibility. In the current healthcare system, preventive treatments by healthcare professionals are often not paid.

Director of healthcare at Rabobank, Michel van Schaik, comments: “In order to make an impact, prevention needs to be given a prominent place in the revenue models of healthcare providers.”

The GP can help

GPs have the knowledge and tools required to help their patients with prevention.

They can advise on lifestyle, refer to a dietician or offer help with quitting smoking. For certain groups, there is the combined lifestyle intervention (GLI). This is a two-year process during which the participant receives advice and guidance. This sort of help is covered by the basic health insurance.

Annual checkups of people outside certain risk groups, however, are not the custom in the Netherlands, and are not covered by the basic health insurance.

If you are concerned about your health and want to know whether preventive programs may help you, make sure you discuss it with your GP.

Rabobank and lifestyle

Rabobank discusses the impact of prevention and vitality on services and products with its clients. It supports initiatives in this field through knowledge or financial services.

Examples are the support of the Doctor & Lifestyle Association: Vereniging Arts & Leefstijl, the Student & Lifestyle foundation: stichting Student en Leefstijl, and the Rabo Food Forward-program which aims to produce enough food worldwide to feed 10 billion mouths by 2050.

This article was based on the following article: Leefstijl advisering in de praktijk


This content is offered in cooperation with

Rabobank - Sustainable Health & Finance.
Learn more about Rabobank

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