Frustration among athletes with disabilities from aid: the special fund is not helping

Athletes with a physical disability who are applying for compensation for sports assistance are often sent from column to column by health insurance companies and municipalities. To help them, the Paralympic Fund has now launched a new platform: Unique Sports Equipment. Athletes with disabilities can get advice on their applications or financial support if needed. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports allocates one million euros for this purpose. According to Lonneke Schijvens of the Center for Sport and Exercise Knowledge, this is a step in the right direction, but it is not a long-term solution to the problem.

The health insurance company must reimburse for sports aids associated with the body, such as prosthetics. However, other aid, such as a sports wheelchair, falls under the Social Support Act (Wmo) that the municipalities implement. However, requests are often rejected without good reason. According to Schijvens, this is mainly due to a lack of knowledge. Health insurers are often not aware of their responsibilities and possibilities. Then they quickly point to the municipality. Municipalities are allowed to set their own Wmo policy. There, too, it is often unclear what they will do and what will not be repaid. This leads to a lot of confusion and frustration. ”

With the arrival of unique sports gadgets, Schijvens feared that health insurers and municipalities would meet this group less often, and refer them more quickly to that fund. But this fund was created as a kind of temporary support to enable changes to be made in the short term. The question is whether it will continue in two years. If not, then you will face a problem after that time if nothing changes in the municipalities and the health insurance companies. ”

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Finally the manual bike has been replaced

According to Schijvens, Knowledge Center Sport & Exercise will continue to push for this structural improvement. it is necessary. Of the 1.7 million Dutch people between the ages of 12 and 79 with disabilities, only 34 percent participate in sports, compared to nearly 60 percent of the total population.

Danielle Van Hove notes that this while exercise can make a huge difference. A 45-year-old NAC patient, who was restricted to a wheelchair due to premature labor, was eventually compensated for a manual bike by various boxes after a long operation. “The application was first submitted to the municipality, but I had to be able to provide proof that I was a member of a sports club. I couldn’t. My bike cost about 6,500 euros, which I would never have paid from my benefits.”

Van Hove thinks it’s strange that municipalities do so little for people like them. “Because I can move with my hand bike, I have a lot of complaints. As a result, everyday things are also much better for me.”

Research by Rebel, commissioned by Knowledge Center Sport & Exercise, also shows that it is worth investing in sports aids. The report finds that each spending of 16,000 euros – the average amount needed for sports assistance – brings about 75,000 euros to society. This is mainly because getting more exercise leads to lower health care costs and an improved quality of life. In any case, Van Hove is pleased that interest in athletes with physical disabilities appears to be increasing. “Everyone should be able to play sports. Whether you are in a wheelchair or not.”

Read also:
Tens of thousands of athletes with disabilities are not getting the right help. So, they do not play sports

People with physical disabilities who want to exercise are sent from column to column when they need aids, according to Trouw published in July 2020.

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Amber Webster

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