New Zealand vs. the government: “Put health first”

This is the most important message from NZa in its annual State of Care report. The Healthcare Authority is positive about the possibilities of tackling problems such as costs, staff shortages and health disparities: “There is still much to be gained by organizing healthcare on the basis of principles of appropriate care.”

During this election season NZa invites politicians Putting health at the center of all policies. So this is not just a task for the Department of Health, Welfare and Sport, health insurance companies or healthcare providers. The Healthcare Authority also wants to improve collaboration between healthcare areas and for governments to formulate health goals, at national and regional levels.

Differences in health

NZa is concerned about the growing differences in health between more affluent and less affluent people. She predicts that pressure on health care will reinforce this “unequal opportunity.” “We can only reduce these health disparities by putting health at the center of all government policies and making health care affordability possible.”

Read the interview with Interim Director Karina Raijmakers from NZa on Zorgvisie: “Poverty of ideas in electoral statements”

This means that the government must manage health targets better, such as the target number, for example, for overweight people, the number of smokers, and the percentage of people who exercise enough. The government must hold health insurance companies “responsible for steering toward health goals,” but it must help them through regulation and financing, because cooperation must bear fruit. Adjusting risk adjustment is essential.

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Waiting and limited

NZa provides the arguments for this change. For example, the most prosperous 20% of the Dutch population live 23 years longer in good health than the least prosperous 20%. According to the state of health care, the policy is very cautious and limited: “We now wait until someone gets sick and only then take action. This is disastrous. In many cases, the solution lies not in the medical field, but in withholding care.”

Healthcare authority refers to all types of social issues that can lead to the need for care, while the underlying problem usually cannot be solved in the healthcare sector. NZa cites poverty as a cause of demand for care, but also stress, loneliness, unhealthy lifestyle, education and air pollution. “Central government health policy is needed to solve this problem structurally.”

Spread of initiatives

New Zealand points out that healthcare parties must better share the outcomes of their care and be accountable: if it is not clear to what extent an intervention brings the health goal closer, no one can control that. “We support the creation of a public infrastructure with a common language and secure, nationally regulated access to healthcare data. There is now a proliferation of data exchange initiatives.”

Stand van de Zorg also describes a comprehensive definition of appropriate care. New Zealand also supports clear roles and responsibilities for different parties. Because the health care body expects that tasks will become more spread out due to greater collaboration and that problems may arise as a result of who can be held accountable for commitments.

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Megan Vasquez

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