On 28 February the Dutch minister of finance and leader of the Christian democrat party CDA, Wopke Hoekstra, participated in an election debate broadcast by RTL. During this debate, he stated that the costs of Dutch healthcare exceed 100 billion euros. In a response on Twitter, member of Parliament Fleur Agema, number 2 on the ballot for the right wing Freedom Party (PVV), stated that Hoekstra was off by 30 billion and that the actual expenditures are less than 70 billion euros. Her claim turns out to be mostly false.
In her tweet, Agema refers to data from 2019 published by the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS), specifically to ‘zorguitgaven onder plafond’ (healthcare expenditure ‘under ceiling’) as seen in figure 2.
Hoekstra however, referred to a number indicating the total of all healthcare expenditures, from a different set of data, published in 2019 by the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS), as seen in figure 3. This is stated by Fabian Paardekooper, representative of the Ministry of Finance.
According to Astrid Plas from CBS the source Agema uses is not representative for the total amount of healthcare expenditures incurred by the Dutch government. The data from VWS does not include expenditures such as:
- Healthcare paid for by additional insurance
- Uninsured healthcare that people pay for by themselves
- Healthcare and welfare work paid for by municipalities
- Occupational healthcare and labor reintegration
- Population screening
- Maintenance costs (government and health insurers)
- Forensic care and shelter for refugees
- Day-care services
In short, PVV’s Fleur Agema states: ‘Finance minister Hoekstra is off by 30 billion euro’ in his statement on Dutch healthcare expenditure. According to her, healthcare costs amount to 70 billion, not 100 billion euro. But Hoekstra referred to the sum of all healthcare expenditures in the Netherlands based on data from the statistics bureau CBS. The source used by Fleur Agema is only representative of a certain part of these healthcare costs. However, Hoekstra left room for misinterpretation by not clearly defining that he was referring to the total costs of Dutch healthcare. Therefore, we cannot state that Agema’s claim is completely false. We conclude that her claim is mostly false.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Sam van Apeldoorn and Jesse klein Koerkamp, Windesheim University, Zwolle, The Netherlands
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